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Micro-targeted digital porn is changing human sexuality 

It was only a couple of decades ago, before WiFi or the static death shriek of dial-up modems, that fetishes were hard-won secrets. The porno most of us stumbled across in our formative pubescence – a Playboy left on a rural Greyhound bus, or a waterlogged bodice-ripper in a back-alley dumpster – was all hard silicon protuberances and breathy nonsense. It was sexual, so it was almost invariably scintillating. But it was also ultimately just a flattening manifestation of one grotesque, misogynistic fantasy. Figuring out what actually got your motor running required work and guts. You had to dig deep into the bargain boxes of porn shops, open up with strangers (or worse, those you loved), and pray that you could find someone who understood and would accommodate your desires.
https://aeon.co/essays/micro-targeted-digital-porn-is-changing-human-sexuality

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Pornhub Is the Kinsey Report of Our Time

Waking up on a Sunday morning, I received a text about what happened after I left the previous night’s party. “Everyone got high and we played truth or dare. Ted and Ivan docked.”

“Are you serious?” I replied. “I thought that only happened in porn.” Defined by Urban Dictionary as “the act of placing the head of one’s penis inside the foreskin of another’s penis,” docking is an act that, until that fateful night, nobody at the party had attempted or witnessed firsthand. (Or so they claimed.) But once you know a thing is a thing, sometimes you can’t get it out of your mind. And in a fit of libidinous boredom, or idle curiosity, or lust, or who even knows why anyone does anything anyway — you do that thing. Because that thing exists, and so do you. At some point, someone had to.

On the internet, there is a maxim known as Rule 34, which states: If you can imagine it, there is porn of it. No exceptions. And now that we are solidly into the age of internet pornography, I believe we are ready for another maxim: If there is porn of it, people will try it. (Maybe we can call it Rule 35.) And if people are trying that thing, then inevitably some of them will make videos of that thing and upload those to the internet. The result: an infinitely iterating feedback loop of sexual trial and error. Once upon a time, someone would try something new on film and it would take years to circulate on VHS or DVD through a relatively small community of porn watchers. But today, even the mainstream is porn-literate, porn-saturated, and porn-conversant. For a sexual butterfly effect to take place, you don’t even need to try that thing with your body — you can watch it, text about it, post jokes about it on Tumblr, chat about it on Grindr, masturbate while thinking about it, and type its name into so many search engines as to alter the sexual universe. There is such a thing, now, as a sexual meme — erotic acts and fantasies that replicate and spread like wildfire.

https://www.thecut.com/2017/06/pornhub-and-the-american-sexual-imagination.html

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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End of times for humanity 

The end of the world is a growth industry. You can almost feel Armageddon in the air: from survivalist and ‘prepper’ websites (survivopedia.com, doomandbloom.net, prepforshtf.com) to new academic disciplines (‘disaster studies’, ‘Anthropocene studies’, ‘extinction studies’), human vulnerability is in vogue.

The panic isn’t merely about civilisational threats, but existential ones. Beyond doomsday proclamations about mass extinction, climate change, viral pandemics, global systemic collapse and resource depletion, we seem to be seized by an anxiety about losing the qualities that make us human. Social media, we’re told, threatens our capacity for empathy and genuine connection. Then there’s the disaster porn and apocalyptic cinema, in which zombies, vampires, genetic mutants, artificial intelligence and alien invaders are oh-so-nearly human that they cast doubt on the value and essence of the category itself.

How did we arrive at this moment in history, in which humanity is more technologically powerful than ever before, and yet we feel ourselves to be increasingly fragile? The answer lies in the long history of how we’ve understood the quintessence of ‘the human’, and the way this category has fortified itself by feeding on the fantasy of its own collapse. Fears about the frailty of human wisdom go back at least as far as Ancient Greece and the fable of Plato’s cave, in which humans are held captive and can only glimpse the shadows of true forms flickering on the stone walls. We prisoners struggle to turn towards the light and see the source (or truth) of images, and we resist doing so. In another Platonic dialogue, the Phaedrus, Socrates worries that the very medium of knowledge – writing – might discourage us from memorising and thinking for ourselves. It’s as though the faculty of reason that defines us is also something we’re constantly in danger of losing, and even tend to avoid.

https://aeon.co/amp/essays/the-human-world-is-not-more-fragile-now-it-always-has-been

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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How to have a better death

IN 1662 a London haberdasher with an eye for numbers published the first quantitative account of death. John Graunt tallied causes such as “the King’s Evil”, a tubercular disease believed to be cured by the monarch’s touch. Others seem uncanny, even poetic. In 1632, 15 Londoners “made away themselves”, 11 died of “grief” and a pair fell to “lethargy”.

Graunt’s book is a glimpse of the suddenness and terror of death before modern medicine. It came early, too: until the 20th century the average human lived about as long as a chimpanzee. Today science and economic growth mean that no land mammal lives longer. Yet an unintended consequence has been to turn dying into a medical experience.

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21721371-death-inevitable-bad-death-not-how-have-better-death

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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A better way to care for the dying

A STROLL from Todoroki station, at the kink of a path lined with cherry trees, lies a small wooden temple. A baby Buddha sits on the sill. The residents of the Tokyo suburb ask the infant for pin pin korori. It is a wish for two things. The first is a long, spry life. The second is a quick and painless death.

Just part of this wish is likely to be granted. The paradox of modern medicine is that people are living longer, and yet doing so with more disease. Death is rarely either quick or painless. Often it is traumatic. As the end nears, people tend to have goals that matter more than eking out every last second. But too few are asked what matters most to them. In the rich world most people die in a hospital or nursing home, often after pointless, aggressive treatment. Many die alone, confused and in pain.

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21721375-how-medical-profession-starting-move-beyond-fighting-death-easing-it-better

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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What’s more frightening than an evil world leader? A stupid one

As you’ll have noticed, there’s an awful lot of stupidity afoot in the world. To take the obvious example, consider the principle the journalist Josh Marshall calls “Trump’s razor”, after the philosophers’ rule known as Occam’s razor: when trying to decode the president’s actions, the stupidest explanation you can think of is always likeliest to be true. It’s sometimes argued that we should be grateful for stupid leaders, since at least their stupidity makes life less hazardous: imagine if they were sufficiently focused and clever to implement their worst ideas! But that wasn’t the view of the late Italian economist Carlo Cipolla. In 1976 he published a tongue-in-cheek essay that’s been gaining new attention in the age of Trump. The Basic Laws Of Human Stupidity makes the alarming case that stupid people are by far the most dangerous.Cipolla has a technical definition of a stupid person: someone “who causes losses to another person [or group] while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses” – as opposed to a “bandit”, who pursues selfish gain at cost to others. “Day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one’s activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments,” he writes. Part of the problem is that we assume that certain kinds of people – educated people, powerful people, suit-wearing professionals, people we agree with politically – can’t be stupid. In fact, Cipolla insists, stupidity arises equally in all segments of the population. But the non-stupid never grasp this, so they’re doomed to be surprised, over and over: “Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid people in existence.”

Source: What’s more frightening than an evil world leader? A stupid one | Life and style | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Be Careful! Your Mind Makes Accidents Inevitable

When Clarissa Dalloway thinks that it’s “very, very dangerous to live even one day,” what, exactly, does she have in mind? She’s probably contemplating something abstract—the passage of time, the obscurity of fate. She isn’t worried about stumbling over her own feet and careening into London traffic. Then again, she hasn’t read “Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds,” a terrifying primer on the absurd and humiliating dangers of daily life by the psychologist and safety expert Steve Casner. Every year, Casner writes, people “trip while walking down the sidewalk too close to the curb, fall into the street, and get hit by cars, trucks, and buses.” Reading “Careful” makes you want to stay in—a mistake, Casner writes, since fifty per cent of all fatal accidents happen in “that house of horrors we call home.” Puttering around the house is so dangerous that even people with hazardous jobs, such as electric-power-line installers, are more likely to do themselves in at home than at work.

Source: Be Careful! Your Mind Makes Accidents Inevitable | The New Yorker

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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In science fiction, the future is feminist 

Naomi Alderman’s brilliant science fiction novel The Power justly won the Bailey’s prize for women’s fiction last week. It deserved to win – but I never thought it would.

The unstoppable rise of female-authored and feminist science fiction tends to upset two distinct sets of stuffy traditionalists: sexists and literary snobs. But by insisting that only a certain sort of art is truly great, they’re missing out on some gorgeous books.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/14/feminist-science-fiction-naomi-alderman-the-power-handmaids-tale-mainstream

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Being open-minded literally changes the way you see the world 

Psychologists have only begun to unravel the concept of “personality,” that all-important but nebulous feature of individual identity. Recent studies suggest that personality traits don’t simply affect your outlook on life, but the way you perceive reality.

One study published earlier this year in the Journal of Research in Personality goes so far as to suggest that openness to experience changes what people see in the world. It makes them more likely to experience certain visual perceptions. In the study, researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia recruited 123 volunteers and gave them the big five personality test, which measures extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. That last personality trait inv

https://qz.com/997679/open-minded-people-have-a-different-visual-perception-of-reality/

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Of course we could do more to stop terrorism – if we’re willing to live in a police state

What are we prepared to sacrifice to keep children safe? On Monday night at Manchester arena, 22 people were senselessly slaughtered. Many of them were young girls, pouring out of a pop concert, giddy with excitement. Hours before the killer was identified or Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack, the political conversation had already turned to vengeance, and respected public thinkers were calling, in the name of those dead children, for further crackdowns on immigrants and perceived outsiders, for troops on the streets, for “internment camps'” with straight faces and the sincere implication that anyone who disagrees is weak-willed and possibly a terrorist sympathiser. A lot of little girls have been killed. What good are tolerance and human rights today?
http://www.newstatesman.com/2017/05/course-we-could-do-more-stop-terrorism-if-we-re-willing-live-police-state

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Europe

 

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