Monday, September 28, 2009


¡Hola! Everybody...
I used to hold Mondays for dispelling commonly held beliefs... I’ve stopped that for some time, but here’s one that has always bothered me...

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-=[ Creativity & Madness ]=-

No great genius is without a tinge of madness.

-- Aristotle (384–322 BC)

Since the time of Aristotle (and most likely before), the assumption has been that the truly creative, particularly those in the arts, are a little “touched” or crazy. And it wouldn’t be hard to document. After all, the list of artistic kooks stretches as far back as known history and there are enough contemporary artists to support the idea that insanity and creativity are intimately connected.

But my blog isn’t called unCommon Sense for nothing and part of what I do is question “conventional wisdom.” To wit: Just how true is this assumption?

Well, several researchers (of course! LOL) have looked at groups of creative individuals to see how many were suffering serious emotional problems. The results were eye opening. In one study of 47 artists and writers, psychologist Kay Jamison (who suffers from bipolar disease) found that 18 (38 percent) had been treated for a mood disorder at one time or another. Half of the poets she interviewed had been hospitalized or received medication for such a problem.

Another study by psychiatrist Nancy Andreasen monitored faculty members of the renowned University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. In 1987, she found that twenty-four of the thirty creative writers had at some time been diagnosed with a mood disorder -- nearly three times the rate of a matched group of professionals in other fields. In addition, Andreasen found that the writers’ parents and siblings were similarly much more likely than the general population to have had a psychological disorder as well as to have reached a high level of creative achievement.

It would be so easy to spin various theories from the results of these studies. Manic states can heighten the senses, accelerate the creative process, or flow of ideas, for example. Jamison explains, “Such people have a higher energy level. They think faster.” Another possible explanation is that it is possible that both elation and depression provide good material for creative work -- a road often not taken that leading to experiences as yet explored. Then there are those enamored of biological explanations who assume (even in the absence of any convincing evidence) that it’s all genetic.

However, is mental illness really necessary for art or even more useful than mental health? Andreasen stressed that psychological disorders in themselves do not lead to higher levels of creativity. It’s not so much that mental illness makes people more creative. Rather, it’s more likely that they have a fundamental cognitive style that makes them more creative and also makes them more susceptible to mental illness. That cognitive style could be described as an unusual openness, sensitivity, or intensity. What we can say is that creative people often have what some psychologists call “thin boundaries”: a tendency toward being sensitive, vulnerable to stress, loss, and rejection -- all of which are known as precipitants of mental illness.

Creativity and mood disorders are indirectly related, with each being connected to a third factor, and because of this virtually all researchers deny any real connection between madness and art. In other words, the great majority of creative people are not psychotic and the great majority of psychotic people are not creative. If you go to a psychiatric hospital, you won’t find eccentric, creative people, you find apathetic, sick people.

On the contrary, when given personality tests creative thinkers score high on what is called “ego strength.” Ego strength can be defined as persistence; a sense of reality in the midst of confusion, the ability to function after you have been tossed around. According to researchers, creative people are rather well organized, well-put together people who happen to be vulnerable to mood disorders. In fact, contrary to the popular notion, creative people seem to do their best work during their healthy periods. They don’t do well when their moods aren’t normal. For one, they’re too disorganized when they are high and too despairing when they’re low.

I will go further and say that the seeming eccentricity of creative people have led them to being misdiagnosed as bi-polar. Mood swings don’t always imply mental illness. In addition, there is the question of defining mental illness and its relationship to power and norms. In Madness and Civilization, Foucault explored how “madness” could be constituted as an object of knowledge on the one hand, and, on the other, as the target of intervention for a specific type of power: the disciplinary institution of the asylum. Artists and original thinkers are often iconoclasts whose pursuit of their ideas takes them away from the mainstream. It is possible that being a creator, especially in a society that doesn’t value the creative process, can cause, or worsen, the illusion of psychological difficulties.

So, yeah, it does not follow that madness and creativity are all that connected...

Creatively Yours,


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Sermon [F.E.A.R.]

¡Hola! Everybody...
It’s Sunday and off in the distance a little, I can hear the church bells... I am not a Ken Burns fan but I am looking forward to viewing his series on the history our national parks (The National Parks: America’s Best Idea). For the first time in history of humankind, land was set aside for the pleasure of the common folk, and not just the aristocracy. Manifested in our parks is the vision of a society guided by the values we like to say we hold dear. For those of us who despise our government (We the People... ), perhaps it would worthwhile to watch this...

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-=[ Feeding the Demon ]=-

Fear: Fuck Everything And Run

The following is based on a true event, but it reminds of a story I read about a long time ago...

I took the train last night and, as is often the case on weekends, the NYC transit system is a complicated mess. Most of the construction and structural upgrades occur during the weekends, so trains are re-routed, stations by-passed and it’s almost impossible to keep track. As a result, there are usually mobs of clueless tourists moving about aimlessly in our transit system. Part of being a New Yorker is often adopting the duty of a de facto tour guide.

And so it was last night, when a rather attractive woman approached me for assistance. I assured her the oncoming train would take her to her destination (she and I were getting off on the same stop) and, as she struck up small talk, we got on.

As we entered, I felt immediately sensed something weird in the car. Everyone seemed tense and, sure enough, there was a person talking very loud, using profanity, and it had everyone ill-at-ease. As a New Yorker you learn to ignore such outbursts. Paying too much mind often serves to encourage unwanted behavior, so being able to ignore unusual behavior becomes second nature to most New Yorkers. Unfortunately, Tourist Lady wasn’t a New Yorker and she committed infraction no.1: she made eye contact with the individual, who seemed especially belligerent. I took her by the elbow, guiding her to a transit map with the outward intention of showing her where she should get off, Inwardly, I was also trying to deflect the unwanted attention she was eliciting. I hoped that this would help sever the connection between Belligerent Subway Dude and Pretty Tourist Lady would be broken.

No dice...

She was pretty and Belligerent Dude, who was apparently drunk, asks Pretty Tourist Lady if she needs some assistance with directions. Pretty Tourist Lady (who’s not drunk, merely naïve), answers, in what could have been construed as a snobby dismissal, that no, she didn’t need help (and I believe she showed a little eye-roll to boot).

This, of course, sets Belligerent off who starts in on her, making comments about her that weren’t too nice. Naïve Tourist Lady, sidles over closer to me and realizes that she probably shouldn’t have paid any mind to Belligerent Dude because he’ drunk. Belligerent Dude thinks she is a snobby bitch.

Belligerent responds by talking about Pretty Tourist Lady's tits, her legs, I mean, he’s just going off on her, and I know she’s embarrassed. Out of the blue, from the other end of the car, a man yells out, “Shut the fuck up, already!” and Belligerent, as if on cue, goes off on that individual. In fact, he threatens the individual, who I shall call Capt. Save-a-Ho, with a severe “beat down.” Once Capt. Save-a-Ho realizes that he will have to exert more than bravado in order to handle Belligerent, he calms down a little, but Belligerent, who’s also a big dude, gets right in Capt. Save-a-Ho’s face and challenges him. Actually calls him a “fuckin pussy,” adding that he will “kick his motherfuckin ass” for good measure.

Capt. Save-a-Ho suddenly remembers the next stop is his and gets off. Of course, I’m sitting there hoping Belligerent finds something else to do, but fuckin Tourist Lady is still staring at him. So, Belligerent sits right across from us and continues his running commentary on Tourist Lady’s physical attributes. And I’m sitting there thinking that reading my book is all I want to do. And now, he’s starting to get on my nerves.

Finally, I tell Belligerent, “Listen man, why you gotta disrespect me like that? Can’t you see she’s with me? I mean, how would you like it if someone talked about your woman like that right in front of you? That shit ain’t right... ” I added a few choice words of my own and stared right into his eyes, hoping that my once vaunted “psycho” I-don't-give-a-fuck look hadn’t softened from lack of use, but it wasn’t working. Tourist Lady also chose this point in time to move away from me a little, apparently undecided whether to bail out or not.

Belligerent responded by informing that he was, in fact, on his way to meet his woman, and if anybody spoke to his woman in the manner that he was speaking to Tourist Lady (now my woman), he would kick that motherfucker’s ass. It was an obvious challenge, but one I was going to ignore.

I looked at him as if I was tired and before I could say anything more, an older man sat next to Belligerent and, in a soothing voice, began talking to him. At first Belligerent was hostile to the old man, but because the old man was non-threatening and seemed genuinely interested in him -- asking him about his girlfriend and how she was -- Belligerent took his focus from me and started talking to the old man.

In a loud voice, Belligerent began talking about his “woman” enumerating all her great qualities, and how he couldn’t wait to see her. The old man continued in this vein, asking more questions, generally communicating the feeling that he was interested in Belligerent’s story -- in him as an individual. Eventually, as Belligerent continued to vent and he disclosed more and more, he revealed that he hadn’t seen his woman in a long time, and that he wasn’t sure that she would see him, and with the old man’s prompting, Belligerent's cracked a little as he continued to talk.

He had just come out of jail, he told the old man, and he didn’t really have anyone. All he had, he said, was that he was headed to the last known address of the woman he loved, but he was afraid that she wouldn’t be there, or if she was, if she would even accept him.

As the train arrived at my stop and I got off (with Tourist Lady), the last thing I saw was the old man comforting Belligerent, who had completely broken down sobbing like a child...



Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Invitation of an Open Hand

¡Hola! Everybody...
If you took the time and consideration, thanks for voting for me, it warms my heart. If you haven’t, please do so! (click here). God is watching you, so do the right thing, dammit! LOL Have a great weekend...

* * *

Yesterdays [no. 1]

They were always on the outside
not because there was no door
but because it was were they
long ago chose to live.

I couldn't bring my world
to them, however I tried.

I could only extend the
invitation of an open hand.

Please replace me...

if you dare.

Reach out for them...

if you care.

Listen to the silent screams
of these sad-eyed ladies.

Share their finely-tuned sorrows
when they join their pallid thin hands
with yours and guide you on their
journey to despair.

All rights reserved ©

Friday, September 25, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blox [Incest and Voyeurism]

¡Hola! Everybody...
I want to go see Michael Moore’s latest (heard it’s his best since Roger and Me), but it’s playing at only two theaters here?!! Both theaters (The Angelika and Lincoln Center) suck, IMO...

BTW, I don't think I announced here, but one of my blogs was nominated for Blog of the Year, and I'm getting my ass kicked! If you can, please go and vote for me (click here). It's pathetic, the ass-whupping I'm getting. LOL!

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Mackenzie Phillips and her Sister, Chynna

-=[ Incest, Secrets, & Woundology ]=-

On the eve of my wedding, my father showed up, determined to stop it. I had tons of pills, and Dad had tons of everything too. Eventually I passed out on Dad’s bed.

-- Mackenzie Phillips on her relationship with her father

By now, you have probably heard the cries coming on the heels of actress Mackenzie Phillips revelation of her long-term incestuous relationship with her father, musician John Philips, in a tell-all memoir. Everybody and their mother (oops!) has had something to say about it.

There’s a reason for that...

First, this post will not be a moral condemnation of Phillips. There will be no pontificating, proselytizing, or judgment of her or her decision to reveal the intimate details of an apparently consensual intimate and incestuous relationship with her father. She has enough to deal with. Part of the reason for the interest in the story, aside from the obvious taboo it breaks, is that as a society we all have become voyeurs. We watch suffering on TV, for example, and after having a good cry, we feel better about ourselves because we felt a catharsis of some kind. That this voyeurism does nothing to alleviate the world’s suffering is irrelevant -- what’s important is that we feel better about ourselves. Why do you think those stupid email forwards are so popular? Partly because clicking a mouse and sending that (bogus) story of the dying child to 1000 contacts on our list makes us feel better somehow.

We have mistaken voyeurism -- or a form of collective Peeping Tom-ism -- for compassion.

It’s the same with lurid sex tales, or the obsessive/ compulsive hunt for pedophiles that exist only in our minds, and all the other bullshit we are fed everyday. It’s voyeurism in the sense that we live our lives in absentia. We don’t so much as participate in life; rather we sit back and watch it flash by. We don’t date, we watch “reality” shows on dating and become consumed about who wins or loses, or who act da fool. We don’t so much as engage in sex, rather, we watch others do it, or talk about it, and the more lurid the sex, the more it captivates us. And all the while, the haves are raping us blind...

We are a society of Peeping Toms. Afraid of living our own lives, we watch the fantasy machine. And so it is with Mackenzie Philips' revelation. I can’t say for sure or speak on her cognitive motivation for revealing, in so public a manner, her sexual relationship with her father. Some might say it’s the money -- to sell a book. Others may point out hers is a mindset indicative of the fall of civilization as we know it. Others will say it’s a sign of the End Times, blah blah blah...

The only fact we can be sure of is that we’re watching. Period.

I do think that this need to reveal ourselves publicly is a perversion of something that was originally healthy. For too long, before the advent of psychotherapy and 12-steps fellowships, we hid our shame in secrets that killed us as surely as any unchecked cancer. Secrets kill, for sure. As a society, we were taught to hide our shameful aspects, not talk about rape, addiction, abuse, or incest, and that certainly wasn’t healthy. Secrets kill because secrets allow the behavior to continue unchecked. So, in a very real way, Ms. Phillips is talking about something that needs to be spoken about.

The problem is one of what the intuitive healer, Caroline Myss, calls woundology: the overwhelming tendency to become to preoccupied with our wounds. We have taken disclosure to its extreme. There is no reason for me to know that you are an incest survivor, recovering, addict, and God only knows what else, within the first few minutes I have met you. That’s none of my business. Actually, I don’t want to about know that. I shouldn’t know that.Not on the first date!

“Here’s my wound,” we seem to be saying to one another.

“I am an incest survivor.”

“I am domestic violence survivor.”

“I am a spurned lover.”

“I am a cancer survivor.”

The list goes on. We have become too identified with our wounds and the problem is that we are more than a wound, we’re human beings first. It’s a problem because when we abandon or are unable to maintain healthy boundaries, it becomes a free-for-all. Our lives have become episodes of Jerry Springer. Sometimes it seems that we can’t see each other in our rush to reveal our wounds.


Liberating ourselves from the destructive shame of our secrets is an important and noble cause. It’s how we grow as humans, how we evolve and heal, become more whole. It is the first step towards freedom from human bonadage. But talking about our secrets is only a small part of that healing process. To stay stuck on the wound, to walk around constantly exposing your wound to anyone who will bother to look is not part of an effective healing process. In actuality, it’s the other half of the voyeurism dialectic. The other part of voyeurism is the exhibitionism -- we have also become emotional exhibitionists. Some of show, the rest of us watch.

What kind of shit is that?

I will not pass judgment on Ms. Phillips, nor will I attempt, as many have done, to offer some bullshit pop psychology analysis. One of the first lessons I learned from my study of psychology is that you first have to look at yourself when faced when a stimulus.

Family incest/ rape (which is how I view this incident) is very traumatic and a child will develop poor coping skills and experience issues with boundaries. I think I see this in Ms. Phillips' decision to go public with the lurid details of her incestuous relationship with her father. There’s a difference between disclosing the process of a dysfunctional or harmful behavior and sharing the content of such behaviors. Healing is a process and talking about that process is a path out of the darkness of shame. Sharing the detailed contents of that experience, in my mind, isn’t for public consumption, and can't possibly be therapuetic. As traumatic as incest and family rape is, I can’t imagine how much more traumatic it would be to have to go through this process publicly.

But we all watch and we think we’re living... but we’re not. We’re professional voyeurs.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

En Memoriam

¡Hola! Everybody...
I will be out in the field for most of the day, so I won’t be around to flirt, cajole, disturb, and upset... LOL

* * *

-=[ Terrorism ]=-

Lynching is a particularly heinous crime. It isn’t merely the killing of another human being (as if that isn’t heinous enough). Lynching takes time and premeditation. It’s a way to send a message to society in general. It’s an act of terrorism. So, it’s a dangerous term to throw out -- nothing to trifle with.

In fact, earlier today a colleague she expressed concern with my use of the term. She is of the opinion that there’s a real danger in engaging in a one-sided, accusatory dialog that will only make the right feel more isolated and, therefore, help fan the hate. She fears that it will be civil war all over again.

On September 12, William Sparkman, the same day as tea-bagger protests, was found hanging from a tree with the word “fed” carved into his chest. The 51-year-old single father and substitute teacher had been working for the Census in Kentucky’s rural, poor Clay County.

Mr. Sparkman, an innocent man, was lynched.

Lynching, the practice of killing people by mob action, has a long tradition in the United States dating back from the 1700s through the 1950s. This type of murder is most often associated with hanging, although it often included burning and/or various other methods of torture, lynchers were rarely punished, or even arrested, for their crimes. In fact, I would go as far as saying that lynching was a form of perverse entertainment.

While lynching is often associated with Southern efforts to enforce “white supremacy,” with African-Americas and Whites active in the pursuit of equal rights, were the groups most frequently lynched, Latino/as, Indians, East Indians, and Asians were also victims of lynchings. The largest single lynching known was the 11 Italian Americans who were lynched in New Orleans early in the 20th century, for example. furthermore, many women and gay and lesbians have been victims of lynchings.

Lynching isn’t just a crime against an individual, it also a crime against humanity. It is a crime against the social contract and everything that barely keeps us civil. It has no place in our society, but here it is -- again. Rearing its ugly head.

There are those who will point to the hate mongers. Cowards like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and idiots like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin for fanning the hate and I would agree with them. They are the ones yelling “fire!” in the crowded theater of life. But I look at the group most responsible for these crimes: the religious and political fundamentalists. They believe in an unforgiving and jealous father and perceive anyone different from them as less than human. They call liberalism a disease, and anyone one to the left of their ideology are fascists or socialists. Let’s get real people, “socialist” is just another word for “nigger,” “bitch,” “faggot,” “homo.”

On September 12, 2009, William Sparkman was found hanging, the word “fed” carved into his chest. That, whatever your political orientation, was a message for all of us...


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Big Lie

¡Hola! Everybody...
I am tired and tapped out. The following was posted a couple of years ago...


-=[ The Beauty Myth ]=-

I remember having to take a class on gender and politics during my undergrad years and I really wasn’t feeling it. Not that I didn’t identify with women’s causes, I did, and always have, but a part of me felt that the class had no real relevance for me.
Jeeez, was I ever wrong!

That course would change my worldview in significant ways and would open the door to other avenues to explore academically. I can’t get into all that without losing my friends who have some form of attention deficit, but I will say that I learned a lot in that initial course. Later, I would take more advanced courses and eventually work with two leading female researchers in the field of developmental psychology.

Three works stand out for me during this time. The first, “The Egg and the sperm: How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles,” (Martin, 1991) taught me that medical and scientific research reinforces gender stereotypes by presenting “facts” that reflect social biases about gender. In other words, just because a person puts on a lab coat doesn’t mean they leave their cultural mindset behind. This may not sound like a lot, but it was huge in influencing how we think of research and science. I’ve written about the second work, In a Different Voice by Carol Gilligan (1982), previously. In a Different Voice stood the scientific world on its head and created a revolution.

The next work, The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf (1990) I will address today briefly. Controversial, critically acclaimed, and wildly popular, The Beauty Myth helped usher in what some call the third wave of feminism. I find that its thesis is even more relevant today than it was when it was first published.

After a lot of jerking off and even more reading, what follows is my synopsis of this work. Please! Because I’ve had to simplify and cut down this work, there’s a lot missing. I would strongly recommend it as reading material.

Simply put, Wolf argues (quite successfully) that our culture judges women (and women judge themselves), against an impossible standard of the “Ideal Woman.” Wolf calls this “beauty pornography.”

Magazines are full of images of impossibly underweight models, for example, that are between fifteen and twenty years old. We rarely see a picture of a woman who is not wearing make-up applied by an artist, hair and clothes professionally styled and designed. A professional artist airbrushes all flaws and wrinkles out.

This is a form of social conditioning that keeps women competing against each other in and out of the workplace. In truth, it has been going on for years, but the recent availability of cosmetic surgery encourages a form of female self-loathing and disgust when achievement that standard look is not possible. If you are not tall, thin, and under twenty you have little chance of success, the message goes.

Now, before I get the pat “Well, not me, Eddie… ” comments, let me point out that this is not about you per se. It’s a social issue and before commenting, you have to think about this issue beyond your individual mindset. Personally, I feel the high incidence of eating disorders among all women, and specifically young women, is a direct consequence of the beauty myth.


Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women's development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Martin, E. (1991). The Egg and the sperm: How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 16(3 ), 485-501.

Wolf, N. (1990). The beauty myth: How images of beauty are used against women. New York: Random House.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

History of Race Preferences

¡Hola! Everybody...
No foreplay today, getting right to the issue...

* * *

-=[ The Curious History of Race Preferences ]=-

Their leaders seem more intent on vying with blacks for permanent victim status than on seeking recognition for genuine progress by Hispanics over the last three decades.

-- Linda Chavez on Latino/as

Linda Chavez, an anti-affirmative Latina favored by conservatives because of her last name, would have us think that Blacks, Latino/as, and other people of color are looking for handouts and preferential treatment. Ironically, it is she who has benefited professionally and financially by trading on her own Latina heritage. Like many conservatives, she claims that segregation was defeated and white prejudice almost completely eradicated after Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. She goes as far as saying (as many black and brown enablers of the racial conservatives do) that it has been liberals that have derailed Latino/a progress. I call those who deny the reality of racism racial conservatives. I addressed their shoddy scholarship earlier (click here).

You might know of Chavez, she testified recently against Supreme Court Judge Sotomayor during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. Chavez has a particular dislike for Latino/as in general and specifically for Puerto Ricans, but I will not explore that today. I will address her sub-standard scholarship and self-loathing when I address Black and Brown conservatives. Chavez had to step down as a nominee for Labor of Secretary under the catastrophe known as the Bush II administration because, yes, she hired an illegal Latina immigrant. She denied knowing said individual was here illegally though the person in question contradicted that denial. Later, Chavez herself would issue an admission of sorts and forced by Bush's people to step down.

Therefore, if I call Chavez a hypocrite (she admonished Clinton appointees who did the same), it’s not character assassination, it’s an observation. Calling her a “come mierda” (shit eater) can be perceived as an attack on her character, but -- fuck it -- she’s a shit eater if ever there was one...

Chavez and other racial conservatives believe the United States has made better progress in removing racial barriers than liberals will acknowledge. The shift began, they argue, during the 1950s. And when the Civil Rights movement succeeded in abolishing Jim Crow, white racism had all but withered away. As a result, at least according to Chavez and her masters, affirmative action programs are unnecessary and in fact are a form of “reverse racism.”

Ironically, the current debate over race-based solutions assumes that the only beneficiaries of these policies are blacks, other racial minorities, and women. However, if we define affirmative action as “race and gender preferences codified into law and enforced through public policy and social customs,” then it is indeed strange and peculiar to suggest that affirmative action began when in 1963 President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925. Taking the above definition, often cited by opponents of affirmative action like Chavez, it would be more accurate to mark the beginning date for this legal policy as 1641. That is when laws specifying rights to property, ownership of goods and services, and the right to vote, restricted by race and gender, were first enacted. In 1790, Congress formally restricted citizenship by naturalization to “white persons,” a restriction that would stay in place until 1952.

Understood in this way, affirmative action has been in effect for 367 years, not 46. For the first 330 years, the deck was legally stacked on behalf of whites and males (Fredrickson, 1988). Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, in Dred Scot, didn’t mince his words when he said: “Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported to this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community, formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all rights, and privileges, and immunities guaranteed by that instrument?” Justice Taney’s answer to his own question leaves no doubt. We the people, he stated, was never intended to include blacks, slave or free. The authority cited by Taney in his ruling? The Constitution, the courts at every level, the federal government, and the states -- all having routinely denied blacks equal access to rights of citizenship (Harding, 1983).

It follows, then, that from the inception of the United States, wealth and institutional support have been invested on the white side of the color line. This preference, in turn, has led to an accumulation of economic and social advantages for European Americans. On the black side, it has resulted in the systemic exclusion of equal access to economic and social benefits, leading to a disaccumulation for blacks. When Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925 in 1963, he was simply attempting to pry open the doors that had been sealed shut for more than three centuries. Now, after only four decades of “racial and gender preferences,” come mierdas like Chavez and other racial conservatives, have launched a largely successful attack against affirmative action programs that were instituted to reverse three hundred years of disinvestment in black communities. Yet when power and wealth were being invested on their side of the color line, white Americans registered hardly any opposition to the arrangement, nor do racial conservatives acknowledge this historical fact (Steinberg, 1995).

However, we don’t have to go back three hundred years to find the roots of current white privilege. We can look at more recent policies that have been instrumental to racial inequality. But that’s for another post...



Fredrickson, G. (1988). The arrogance of race. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Harding, V. (1983). There is a river: The black struggle for freedom in America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Steinberg, S. (1995). Turning back: The retreat from racial justice in American thought and policy. Boston: Beacon Press.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Doritos Factor

¡Hola! Everybody...
I simply no longer have what little patience I had to begin with... I don’t want to change your mind; I don’t care if you “agree” with facts or not; I don’t care what it is you believe in, all I care about is telling the truth.


A few people have asked that I post something along the lines of "Neoconservativism for Dummies" and I just might attempt it. LOL!

* * *

-=[ Healthcare and Racism in the US ]=-

... minorities... eat more Doritos...

-- Glenn Beck

On the July 23rd edition of his show on Fox News’, Glenn Beck said, in reference to Obama’s healthcare reform efforts that the “Office of Minority Health” could allow for “litigation against Doritos” since “minorities” may “eat more Doritos.” In the video clip, he offers up Latina racial conservative, Linda Chavez, as a talking head basically supporting the idea that Blacks and other people of color have lower standards of health because, well, they’re stupid and lack impulse control. They eat too many Doritos, as Glenn Beck would have it. Chavez is a prime example what Latino/as call a come mierda -- a shit eater. I will be posting more about her (and her crusade against Latino/as in general and Puerto Ricans specifically) and other conservative minorities at a later date.

For now, it would be safe to say that the prevailing opinion among many conservatives is that blacks and Latino/as suffer from low health outcomes because they choose to participate in high-risk behaviors. I think Linda “Come Mierda” Chavez and Glenn Beck, as well as the millions that watch/ listen to his show would agree with this form of reasoning.

Because it extends beyond individual attitudes and is embedded in our social structures and organizations, race is a strong determining factor in the way Americans are treated and how they fare. White Americans, whether they admit it or not, benefit as individuals and as a group from the current way the social hierarchy is set up. These benefits, running the gamut from educational, economic to political advantages encourage white Americans to invest in whiteness as if it were a form of capital (Lipsitz, 1998). The possessive investment in whiteness is like property. And as a kind of property, its value lies in the right to exclude, or deny, communities of color the opportunity to accumulate assets. Therefore, racism is a dialectic (a dance?) between accumulation on the one hand, and exclusion on the other.

What the Glenn Beck’s of our society deny (with the encouragement of their black and brown enablers) is the fact that white privilege exists and is pervasive. Though discussions of racial inequality often tend to focus almost exclusively on black and brown behavior, something as simple as shopping can be problematic for people of color. Clerks in retail stores are more frequently concerned with the color of shoppers’ skin than with their ability to pay. One clothing franchise, Cignal Clothing, for example, stamped an information form on the backs of personal checks. The form included a section marked “race,” and shoppers were classified “W” for white, “H” for Hispanic, and “07” for black (don’t ask!). After conducting an extensive qualitative study, sociologist Joe Feagin reported, “No matter how affluent and influential, a black person cannot escape the stigma of being black even while relaxing or shopping” (Feagin & Sikes, 1994).

Health care is another realm where significant disparities exist between blacks and whites -- disparities that often literally mean the difference between life and death. The wide gaps in mortality rates and access to primary care between blacks and whites have been noted in newspaper accounts and, more extensively, in the academic literature.

However, similar disparities cut across every aspect of health and health care, and few of these differences can be fully blamed on social status and genetics. For example, The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has reported that that cancer deaths are increasing much faster for blacks than for whites, sometimes by as much as twenty to hundred times as fast. Black women are more likely than white women to die of breast cancer, even though the incidence of the disease is lower among blacks (McBarnette, 1995).

According to the same NCI report, “Black men have a cancer-death rate about 44 percent higher than that for white men” (Squires, 1990). In fact, African American men between the ages of fifty and seventy are nearly three times as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men, and their prostate cancer rate is more than double that of whites.

Now, some of you are probably thinking that these disparities fall under the heading of “Fucked Up Choices Black & Brown People Make,” right?

You would be wrong.

Higher death rates for blacks diagnosed with cancer, for example, are a recent development. In the 1930s, blacks were only half as likely as whites to die of lung cancer. Since 1950, however, the rate of lung cancer deaths among black men has increased at three times the rate for white men. Increases in smoking rates are not the likely cause behind the change. Exposure to environmental toxins and carcinogens, which are disproportionately located in poor and minority communities, is one of the most important reasons for racial differences in cancer death rates (Cooper & Simmons, 1985).

Unequal access to screening, prevention, and treatment are other reasons for the health disparities. One of the chief reasons black women are more likely to die of breast cancer is that they are not diagnosed until the disease has reached an advanced stage (Yood et al., 1999). Even when access is to health care is equal, African Americans are diagnosed at a later stage and are almost twice as likely to die of breast cancer as whites. A study of operable lung cancer found that the rate of surgery for black patients was 12.7 percent lower than that for whites with the same diagnosis. This goes beyond social class or the issue of access to health care. The researchers of this study concluded that the “lower survival rate among black patients... is largely explained by the lower rate of surgical treatment among blacks” (Bach, Cramer, Warren, & Begg, 1999). Similarly, racial differences in mortality rates for cervical cancer remain significant even after controlling for age and economic status, and are more likely attributable to differences in screening and diagnosis (McBarnette, 1995).

Racial differences in hypertension have been well documented and much has been written about its prevalence among low income African Americans. One study, however, rejected the conventional wisdom that hypertension among blacks is genetic, concluding that socioenvironmental factors like the stresses of low job status and income are the chief culprits for the different rates of hypertension (Klag, Whelton, Coresh, Grim, & Kuller, 1991).

Access to advanced diagnostic and treatment procedures for coronary heart disease and related ailments also accounts for the significant differences between blacks and whites. Once differences in age, sex, health care payer, income, and diagnoses for all admissions for circulatory disease or chest pains to Massachusetts hospitals had been controlled for, a 1985 study found that whites underwent significantly more angiography and coronary bypass grafting than blacks (Wenneker & Epstein, 1989). More recent studies confirm these results. One study found that that after controlling for differences in age, gender, severity of disease, comorbidity, geography, and availability of facilities, blacks were 60 percent less likely to have thrombolytic therapy.

However, the most glaring issue in health and race is that of racial bias. Evidence suggests that racial stereotyping and discrimination influence the medical decisions made by doctors. One study (whose findings proved controversial), asked doctors to respond to videotaped interviews with “patients” who were in actuality actors with identical medical histories and symptoms. Only the race and gender of the actors were different (Schulman et al., 1999). It turned out that doctors were significantly less likely to refer black women for aggressive treatment of cardiac symptoms than other categories of patients with the same symptoms. Doctors were also asked about their perceptions of patients’ character traits. Black male actor/ patients, whose symptoms and comments were identical to white male actor/ patients, were perceived to be less intelligent, less likely to participate in treatment decisions, and more likely to miss appointments. Doctors in the study thought that both black men and women would be less likely to benefit from invasive procedures than their white counterparts, less likely to comply with doctors’ instructions, and more likely to come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Put simply, where actor/ patients were identical except for race, black patients were usually seen as low-income members of an inferior group.

Although I am sure most doctors would deny being racist, and probably aren’t intentionally racist, they are not immune to America’s racial history and the resulting cognitive bias. In a groundbreaking article on unconscious racism, Charles Lawrence III observed, “racism is part of our common historical experience and... culture. It arises from the assumptions we have learned to make about the world, ourselves, and others as well as from the patterns of fundamental social activities” (1987)

Discretion is inseparable from the practice of medicine, and combined with other sources of racial bias, it causes the differences in treatment and health care. This pattern of racially biased discretion is similar to patterns found in education and criminal justice.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just the fuckin’ Doritos...



Bach, P. B., Cramer, L. D., Warren, J. L., & Begg, C. B. (1999). Racial differences in the treatment of early-stage lung cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 341(16), 1198-1205.

Cooper, R., & Simmons, B. E. (1985). Cigarette smoking and ill health among black Americans. New York State Journal of Medicine, 85, 344-349.

Feagin, J. R., & Sikes, M. P. (1994). Living with racism: The black middle-class experience. Boston: Beacon Press.

Klag, M. J., Whelton, P. K., Coresh, J., Grim, C. E., & Kuller, L. H. (1991). The association of skin color with blood pressure in US blacks with low socioeconomic status. Journal of the American Medical Association, 265(5), 599-602.

Lawrence III, C. R. (1987). The id, the ego, and equal protection: Reckoning with unconscious racism. Stanford Law Review, 39(2), 317-388.

Lipsitz, G. (1998). The possessive investment in whiteness: How white people profit from identity politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

McBarnette, L. S. (1995). African American women. In M. Bayne-Smith (Ed.), Race, gender and health (pp. 51-52). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Schulman, K. A., Berlin, J. A., Harless, W., Kerner, J. F., Sistrunk, S., Gersh, B. J., et al. (1999). The effect of race and sex on physicians' recommendations for cardiac catheterization. New England Journal of Medicine, 340(8), 618-626.

Squires, S. (1990, January 20). Cancer death rate higher for blacks. Chicago Sun-Times p. A5.

Wenneker, M. B., & Epstein, A. M. (1989). Racial inequalities in the use of procedures for patients with ischemic heart disease in Massachusetts. Journal of the American Medical Association, 261(2), 253-257.

Yood, M. U., Johnson, C. C., Blount, A., Abrams, J., Wolman, E., McCarthy, B. D., et al. (1999). Race and differences in breast cancer survival in a managed care population. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 91(17), 1487-1491.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Sermon [American Scripture]

¡Hola! Everybody...
We live in a secular society with the most basic, most important political office being the one you hold and too often take for granted: citizenship. In the coming Sundays, I will try to address our collective ignorance on this all too important issue.

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-=[ A More Perfect Union... ]=-

Our Gospel is not, contrary to what your goober cousins from Texas are saying, the bible. Our testament is the Constitution. However, as with many Christians and the bible, most Americans are ignorant of the content and contexts, of this scared secular document... In fact, some would say that the American Testament -- the political Trinity of faith -- would be the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Every Fourth of July, we celebrate what we sometimes call “America’s Birthday.” But this is incorrect. The United States of America did not come into existence on July 4, 1776.What existed then were thirteen colonies of King George III who were at war with British troops on this continent. The fighting had begun a year before, but it was not until July 4, 1776, that the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and gave their reasons for doing so.

What we celebrate every Fourth of July is the anniversary of the dissemination of the Declaration of Independence. It is a celebration, to be sure, but not of the United States of America as a single, sovereign nation, a federal republic.

The closing paragraph of the Declaration of Independence starts with the following words: “We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general congress assembled... ”The representatives assembled in the Continental Congress at Philadelphia did not represent a single nation which could be called by the proper name, “The United States of America.” They represented thirteen self-governing states. They were united in that they were resolute to fight together for their independence, but they were united in no other way.

In 1783, seven years later, the thirteen colonies, now victorious as independent, autonomous states, entered into agreement with one another to remain loosely united in peace as they had been in war. The army that had successfully fought the war was called “the continental army,” not the army of the United States.

This loose union was grounded in the “Articles of Confederation.” These articles did not form a single nation. If you take the time, you will find the sub-heading reads, “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union Between the States... ” After which follows a listing of the names of the thirteen colonies in an order dictated by their geographical location from north to south.

Four years later in 1987, when the loose union seemed to be in danger of ceasing to be perpetual, representatives of state met once again in Philadelphia to form a more perfect union, one that had a better chance of becoming perpetual and also of ensuring peace on this continent.

The document framing and formulating that more perfect union was entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.” It was properly called a “constitution” for it did two things that a constitution must do.

First, it did constitute a single, autonomous state, unlike the Articles of Confederation (think of the Articles as you would the Charter of the United Nations), which did no more than establish an alliance of separate states, each of which remained autonomous, as independent of the rest of the states as they were before becoming a member of the confederacy. Secondly, it established a government, outlined it purposes, limited its reach, created the different branches of government, and established the offices of each branch, detailing the separation of powers of each.

When we use the phrase “United States of America,” we are referring to a nation that is one of many sovereign states that comprise the United Nations. But in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence introduced those who signed the Declaration as “the representatives of the United States of America, in general congress assemble,” those same words -- “United States of America” -- had a different meaning.

What came into existence July 4, 1776, was not a new nation --like France or Germany. What came into existence was a new people who, through the Declaration, sought to justify in the eyes of the world the separation from the people of Great Britain and their power to assume equality.

Having won a war and then establishing the Articles of Confederation, the founders could then, four years later, attempt to form a more perfect union by drafting and adopting the Constitution of the United States, in the Preamble to which they refer to themselves as, “We the people of the United States... ”

The Declaration was, in the most profound sense, a preface to the Constitution. I don’t think I would be wrong in stating that the Declaration is an informal architectural blueprint for the government of the United States.

Understanding the relationship between the Declaration, Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address is key to an understanding of our government. To call these three documents “the American Testament” is to say that they are like the sacred scriptures of this nation.

From the first document, we obtain the nation’s basics of political faith. From the second, together with the preamble, articles and amendments, we come to an understanding of political faith in terms of the structure of our government, its aims, and goals. The third document gives us a full, rich confirmation of our faith of government of the people, by the people, and for the people -- the people who declared their independence, who formed a more perfect union, and who resolved that this union would not perish from the earth. We are not only the heirs of those people, we are those people, and today we are engaged in the process of this experiment in human governance.

Flag-waving, however sincere; public demonstrations, however well designed; and public speeches, however delivered, do not by themselves sufficiently celebrate this nation, its conception, and birth. As individual American citizens, our personal obligation is to understand, as well as possible, these three documents that comprise our American Testament -- words that should be revered though they are not in the strict sense Holy Scripture.



Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Queen of Latin Soul

¡Hola! Everybody...
A chill is creeping into the air, as summer breathes its last sighs...

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-=[ La YiYiYi/ La Lupe/ La Reina ]=-

El dia en que to deje/ fui yo quien salio ganando
(The day I left you/ it was I who came out winning.)
-- La Lupe, La Tirana

One day a question from one of my readers/ friends left me thinking about boleros, this in turn, led me to reflect on one of its greatest interpreters, La Lupe.

I first saw La Lupe, aka La YiYiYi, barely into my 20s and before then, I wasn’t a big fan. I viewed boleros (love ballads) as a musical genre that older people and parents enjoyed and sang to one another. I think it was a common enough occurrence among Puerto Ricans: my parents would sometimes have arguments via songs. My father would sing some lyrics of a certain song, and then my moms would reply with lyrics from a song of her own, that type of thing. Like an argument, but with song lyrics... LOL

Anyway, one of the songs my mother would sing to my father was her favorite bolero, La Gran Tirana, by the inimitable La Lupe. Its lyrics was something like a feminist rallying cry for women from El Barrio and sung by La Lupe, they oozed irony. The opening line goes something like this:

Segun tu punto de vista
yo soy la mala.
Vampiressa de tu novela,
La Gran Tiriana.

(According to you,
I am the bad one.
Vampiress of your soap opera,
The great tyrant.)

I still get chills whenever I hear those opening lines. The great Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar, uses the song in one of his films; I believe it’s Women on the Verge.

In the hands of a lesser artist, La Tirana could easily sound melodramatic and trite, but as sung by the La Lupe, it’s a powerful claim to liberation, of doing away with oppression -- Yeah, you want to paint me as the bad one? Go ahead!

I saw La Lupe perform only once, many years ago in NYC’s cavernous Madison Square Garden. There were thousands of screaming fans, the noise level distracting, and the sound acoustics horrible. There were many acts that night in the early 70s, the main one being The Fania All Stars, a group of NYC Latino/a musicians that would storm the international circuit and bring that uniquely Nuyorican cultural phenomenon known as salsa to the world. But that night, salsa was ours and ours alone. No one knew what the hell salsa was, and even less of La Lupe.

When La Lupe came on stage, the audience, composed mostly of young Latino/as, went into a frenzy, screaming her name and demanding dedications. To this day, I can’t say I have witnessed a more powerful performance and I have seen many, many performers. I believe it was Frank Sinatra who said that it was dangerous for a performer to give everything, that a performer must, for their own survival, save something for themselves.

Well, La Lupe, bless her soul, gave everything that night. She left nothing, not one thing, for herself. Halfway through her performance she was sitting on the edge of the stage and all of sudden, it didn’t feel like Madison Square Garden anymore, it was as if we were all transported to La Lupe’s intimate world. She sang as if it were the last time she would sing, throwing everything into every song, every note, every syllable. Each movement was imbued with meaning and energy as she sang, laughed, and cried. Her ability to create that intimate connection was remarkable. You could feel her life force reaching out to you, taking you in, seducing you. She would claw at her clothes, scratch herself -- she gave so much. And I sat there transfixed. She called herself an empress and I'd be a damned if she really wasn’t.

Finally, she came to that point in her performance -- she sat on the edge of the stage her clothes by now gone -- torn apart by her own hands -- scratched and bleeding, she sat there in her bra and lingerie, and she managed to look like some reincarnated Taina queen.

You could hear a pin drop...

And that’s when she sang the opening lines to La Tirana:

Segun tu punto de vista/ yo soy la mala…

And it was too much; the crowd went wild, taken over the edge by a rare and masterful artist. At that moment, I fell in love with that woman’s soul, she possessed so much spiritual power and she was so willing, even in the face of annihilation, to share it. You actually feared for her, screamed for her, you felt her pain. I saw people cry and cheer. A powerful epiphany for me.

Unfortunately, I never got to see her again and, due in part to poor management and bad career choices, she would fall into relative obscurity. La Lupe would eventually die destitute living in a run-down tenement in the South Bronx. When news of her death became known, tens of thousands grieved. Money was collected for her funeral. An Off-Broadway play was written and in that way, her music was revived for a new generation.

She was one of those souls that flared brightly if too briefly and gave all she could, throwing caution to the wind. To me, she was woman incarnate that night on that stage. I would never forget her.

A bolero is a ballad, my friends, and with that, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, La Lupe. Que Dios te tenga en la luz:

Friday, September 18, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blog [The G-Spot]

¡Hola! Everybody...
It’s been a hard week, I am tired and I ma going to relax this weekend. Who knows, I might even clean my apartment! LOL I might go watch a movie. The new Matt Damon’s film, The Informant! sounds good... Have a nice weekend, whatever you do. The other day, someone suggested I write on female ejaculation. I wrote the following a while back.

Oh! don’t forget to vote for me! (click here)

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-=[ The G-Spot & Female Ejaculation ]=-

How Scientific Bias Undermines Female Sexuality

The idea of female ejaculation, though a topic of heated discussion these days, isn’t anything new. That many women experience a spurt, gush, trickle, or dribble of clear non-urine fluid during the sexual response has been known and mentioned in Indian and Chinese sex advice books as early as 500 B.C.E. In addition, physicians and philosophers in ancient Greece were aware of the existence of the glands around the female urethra that emit ejaculatory secretions, and Renaissance anatomists identified such tissue.

It wasn’t until the eighteenth century, at the same time that male and female sexuality began to be seen as radically different, that a debate as to whether women ejaculated began. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, female ejaculation was completely erased due to the dominant cultural narrow-mindedness with which women’s sexuality was viewed.

This cultural myopia continued even through the first eighty years of the twentieth century. With the exception of a few isolated journal articles by physicians interested in diseases of the female urethra, information about female ejaculation entirely disappeared from medical discourse, and from our concept of women’s sexuality.

I first developed an interest in female ejaculation when I was involved with a woman who ejaculated during a sexual encounter. My initial thought was that she was peeing on me. Now, I am an intensely sexually curious person, but I am decidedly not into Water (or Blood) Sports! So, I asked my friend what the fuck was going on, in a friendly nothing-big kinda/ sorta manner. She informed me that it wasn’t urine. Fascinated, I turned on the lights and the spot where she was lying on was soaked (she was a gusher, not a dribbler). Now I was convinced that she had peed. Maybe her climax did something to make her pee, I reasoned. However, she showed me the fluid and it was clear and little more viscous than urine would seem. That’s when she explained to me that when she was stimulated in a certain way, she ejaculated.

By now, completely engrossed, I asked her if she could demonstrate it to me and she did! I was like -- damn! How cool! After that experience, I went and studied all I could about female ejaculation. I have met only three or four women that could actually ejaculate regularly.

For the most part, researchers Beverly Whipple and John Perry didn’t faze sexologists when in the 1980s they documented women’s ability to ejaculate. Others, including feminists, responded with outright disbelief and scorn (which shows we are all a product of our culture).

Whatever the case, reliable studies have shown that during intense sexual excitement, or as orgasm approaches, many women produce a clear, alkaline fluid that is not urine. The amount varies from a few drops, to about a spoonful (from which a rock group, The Lovin’ Spoonful, got its name), sometimes much more. Yet many women and their partners believe that this fluid is urine.

Whipple reports that some women find ejaculating this fluid embarrassing and suppress sexual response to avoid producing it. There are doctors who prescribe drugs to suppress the “urine,” while others have performed surgeries to stop it.

Today, despite an impressive body of empirical evidence, several important contemporary studies, a virtual tidal wave of personal testimonies by women who experience ejaculation, as well as a collection of stunning videos produced by feminist activists, most sexologists, and physicians are ignorant about female ejaculation. There is still widespread disagreement as to how many women do ejaculate regularly, why not not all women appear to ejaculate, and whether (as some insist) it can be learned.

However, I submit that the question we should be asking is not if a women ejaculate, but how it differs from male ejaculation. I try not to get too technical, but a male prostrate is created during pregnancy from a female template. In other words, in order for a prostrate to develop, it must exist first in the female template since we all really do start out as females until the testosterone kicks in. I know this is an oversimplification on my part, but I think it stands.

The G-Spot or Urethral Sponge

Initially it was a female friend who suggested I write about the G spot instead of female ejaculation, but the two are connected. The concept of a hypersensitive area inside the vagina, The Grafenburg spot or “G spot,” first came to prominence in 1981 with the publication of The G Spot and Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality, and has so affected the cultural mindset that it has its own spot (pun not intended) in the dictionary.

However, in spite of all the hoopla, there is much confusion (as with female ejaculation)about what the G spot really is, where it’s located, and many are confused about whether or not they even have one. These confusions came about because the few researchers who have been interested in the issue chose to define it differently.

Josephine Sevely and J.W. Bennett claimed that the tissue surrounding the female urethra was identical to the corpus spongiosum that surrounds the male urethra, and cited a study that showed thirty-one tiny glands embedded in it. Sevely simply referred to this tissue as the corpus spongiosum, as the corresponding tissue in the male is called. This material was published in expanded form in Sevely’s book, Eve’s Secrets: A New Theory of Female Sexuality.

In 1981, Beverly Whipple and John Perry published an article in the Journal of Sex research, and named it the “Grafenburg Spot,” or the G spot. In A New View of a Woman’s Body, by a group of feminist activists, they included this structure and called it the urethral sponge. Two illustrations show a woman placing a finger inside her vagina and feeling the sponge. It says, “In addition to ejaculation, some self-helpers have said that stimulation of the urethral sponge can be a focal point for sexual arousal and orgasm.”

So, corpus spongiosum, G spot, and urethral sponge are all the same thing. Sevely’s findings were published first and her research was the most thorough and wide-ranging of the three. However, it was Whipple and Perry who focused on the function of the G spot and its link to female ejaculation, providing a wealth of information from women and their partners who had experienced or witnessed female ejaculation. Prompted by a suggestion that they put their findings in a popular book, they put the concept of the G spot on the map in a way dozens of academic articles could never do.

At this point, I’m becoming aware this posting is getting a little long. In my next sex blog installment, I will attempt to address issues such as how to find the G spot and share voices of experience attesting to female ejaculation and whether (or rather how) it can be learned.



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The First Noble Truth

¡Hola! Everybody...
If you have ever liked anything I wrote, or read something here that made you think, get hard or moist, or if I ever schooled you, or insulted you, made you cry or laugh, or attempted to seduce you here, then please consider voting for my blog. If you’re not on (where a version of this blog is posted), you might have to register. However, some of you know me from the now defunct Y360! and Multiply. In any case, go fuckin vote for me (“translucence”) here!

click here

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-=[ Responding to Suffering ]=-

... an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.

-- Jimmy Carter

A lot of people get a quizzical look when I tell them I’m a practicing Buddhist. I understand that I may not fit the stereotype of a spiritual seeker: I cuss a lot, get angry, sad, happy, horny -- the full catastrophe! LOL I certainly demonstrate little patience and don’t tolerate fools easily. What’s more, I am politically motivated, an engaged activist. Too often people don’t see the connection. From my perspective, spiritual practice is not as an escape from the world, but a way to engage it in a conscious and ethical manner.

In short, my activism is a response to suffering. I mean, look around, there seems to be a lot of it going around, and, as the historical Buddha very likely put it, there’s a lot of suffering in life. Indeed, Buddhism’s first truth is simply an acknowledgment that to live is to know suffering (dukkha). But what is suffering?

I have a simple formula for suffering. For me, suffering is pain (what is) combined with stress (what we bring to it):

pain + stress = suffering

I gave it away early in the post because I need to construct my post rather quickly today. LOL

Let me expand on this a little just so we can create a foundation. Suffering arises because when we experience pain -- when we are injured or startled, or are treated unfairly -- we normally react by lashing out at others and even at ourselves. We are conditioned to believe that this will somehow lessen our pain. It’s almost like shooting yourself in the foot as a response to being shot. In Buddhism, the image of two arrows is used. We act in such a way that a second arrow is shot, at us or others, on account of the pain of the first arrow. When we shoot the second arrow, we “pass on” the original pain. We have to admit, if we look at this critically, it’s a childish coping strategy. If we’re honest with ourselves, however, we recognize that we all do it to a certain extent.

So! According to my “formula,” suffering can be understood as a kind of resistance or reaction to the pain of the present moment. We tend to react physically, emotionally, and/ or mentally when we experience unpleasant sensations, emotions, or thoughts. With physical pain, the tendency is to become tense or to contract around the area where the pain is coming from as if this will somehow lessen the pain. Some doctors say that 80 percent of what patients experience as pain is the not the result of the original cause of the pain, but rather the resistance to the cause. See?

pain + stress = suffering

It’s the same with emotional pain. A perceived slight from someone close to us, or the break-up of an intimate relationship, will result in a flood of emotions, culminating in psychological and often physical pain. We might generate anger (more on anger in a later post), judgments of others, and ourselves, and rationalizing it. The tension usually builds compelling us to seek release from the pain through food, shopping, sex, or mindless entertainment. As humans, we do this individually and through groups, as well as in our communities and nations.

For me, the work of spiritual practice is not to get rid of the pain, but rather to learn how to open to pain and suffering, when they appear in ourselves and others. In this way, I can learn to be present with the pain, but without suffering and without compounding the pain.

My political work and activism is informed by this framework of responding to pain. The people you see spreading all the hate and vitriol are effectively causing themselves and others suffering. It’s a suffering based on the delusion that we are somehow not connected. Compassionate responses to such behavior can manifest in many different ways. Sometimes it can take the form of what I learned to call fierce compassion. Its modern-day equivalent would be called “tough love.” A lot of what I’m seeing today calls for this type of compassion. The tricky part -- indeed, the hardest part -- is maintaining a compassionate attitude in the face of so much mindless hate.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An American Conservative

¡Hola! Everybody...
This has gone viral and it articulates my sentiments exactly. I usually don't repost unoriginal content here, but in this instance I’m making an exception. Send this to your goober neocon friends/ relatives the next time they start foaming at the mouth. I have been unable to determine the author -- I inserted the epigraph, otherwise it is as I found it.

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-=[ I Am an American Conservative ]=-

When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) American philosopher, essayist, and poet

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility.

After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration.

I watched this while eating my breakfast of US department of agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the food and drug administration.

At the appropriate time, as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration-approved automobile, and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issued by the federal reserve bank.

On the way out the door, I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the department of labor and the occupational safety and health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it’s valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the defense advanced research projects administration and post on and fox news forums about how socialism in medicine is bad because the government can’t do anything right.

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[un]Common Sense