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Signing Out — FOREVER!

February 8, 2010 Culture, web No Comments

So you executed the changes you needed to make your Facebook safe but it’s still causing you grief? Hey, we hear you. Living out loud isn’t easy.

Between your girlfriend demanding “Baby, why don’t you poke me anymore?!” and a client catching that fib about being sick (oops! Someone @replied you on Twitter about how awesome it was seeing you naked on a rooftop!), you’re over this whole thing.

You want off the digital grid and you want it now.

But, man, what a bummer to go to every network and delete your profile. Don’t you wish there was an app for that?

There is! Introducing The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine.

You put in your info for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or MySpace and hit COMMIT. The site then changes your passwords (no going back!), replaces your profile pic with a noose, and removes your updates, tweets, pokes, etc., leaving only a concise little message specifying you’ve signed out — forever.

Facebook hates it, of course, and has sent a cease-and-desist letter. But as of press time, you can still check out of Facebook using the site.

Easy breezy, just how we like it.

Information via UrbanDaddy.

Fernando Vicente’s Anatomy

February 7, 2010 Art, Culture No Comments

Some art for you to get you going after brunch, our decadent orchids of want and wantonness. Allow us to introduce you to Fernando Vicente, a brilliant Madrid-born illustrator, frequent contributor to the daily El Pais and a favorite of our editrix’s.

From his Anatomias series:

Pinup by Fernando Vicente

Belleza Interior by Fernando Vicente

Fig. 1 & 2 by Fernando Vicente

Yeah, that’s sexy. In a cool creepy way that makes you think a little too long and too hard about political correctness, which immediately imbues everything with a patina of taboo making it twice as cool, creepy and sexy as before.

OMGLOL, We’re Standing On Seaman and Cumming!

February 5, 2010 Culture, web No Comments

Somewhere inside us is an annoying 12-year-old who still LOLz uncontrollably at any term or thing that even remotely implies sex or genitalia. We all have one — it was just a matter of time before this impulse took life.

Welcome to Things That Are Doing It, a blog devoted to pictures that are sure to send that inner 12-year-old into a mad fit of giggles. From their about page:

Hey, you know what’s everywhere? Peens and Va-jay-jays! They’re out there drawn on the sides of cars, being made out of vegetables and sneakily tucked into advertisements. Hell, take a walk through a nice wooded grove, ten bucks says you see something that looks like a wang. I know I would. I see genitals everywhere, I suffer from wicked-dirty-mind disease. Just right here on my desk I see two boobs, a scrotum and some lady-junk. Luckily my sense of humor has been arrested since grade school, so I think all of this is hilarious. If you don’t, might I suggest drinking half a bottle of whiskey and then giving the site another look.

There you have it. Enjoy — we certainly are.

Via UrbanDaddy.

REMEMBER! Privacy Must Be Set

February 4, 2010 Culture, teh inetrwebz, web 3 Comments

Facebook — mystical place where connections are forged, friends are kept, lovers are explored, relationships are destroyed, positions are obtained, and jobs are brutally lost. Now more than ever. Let me tell you a story.

My phone rang. It was 3AM and I was home riding a deadline, but it was my friend Lindsay, so I picked up.

“OMGSHE’SONMYPROFILE,” she screamed. I could barely hear her between the slurring and the noise in the background.

“OK, calm down. Who, what, why, where, when and how.”

As she talked, I put the pieces together. The man she’s seeing has a crazy ex-girlfriend who’s devoted herself to stalking Lindsay. Lindsay had taken the appropriate measures, but hadn’t bothered to check Facebook — why should she? Facebook is supposed to be safe, right?

Wrong. Late last year, Facebook executed a privacy pullback that essentially screwed all of us. Under the guise of making privacy settings on the social network easier to set and control, Facebook — from one day to the next — made everything on our profiles public. Even those of us very involved with changes in social networks took a while to figure out how to restore order and privacy.

Hell, even Mark Zuckerberg had his embarrassing candids exposed after Facebook put on all these fabulous new privacy controls.

He’s the CEO of Facebook, people.

Why did they do this? Ryan Tate summarized it perfectly in Valleywag in December:

Facebook’s business rationale here is clear. Rival Silicon Valley startup Twitter has grown extremely quickly in the last few years, almost entirely on the back of public content — from celebrities, people’s friends and users’ professional colleagues. That has brought traffic, money from search engines and a $1 billion valuation.

Facebook wants in on that kind of growth, and more public content means more traffic. But Facebook has historically been one of the most private of the social networks, functioning as a sort of safe alcove amid the chaos of MySpace and Friendster.

So Facebook needed to give users a big shove to put its business plan into play. As startup founder Jason Calacanis puts it,

Facebook is trying to dupe hundreds of millions of users they’ve spent years attracting into exposing their data for Facebook’s personal gain: pageviews. Yes, Facebook is tricking us into exposing all our items so that those personal items get indexed in search engines–including Facebook’s–in order to drive more traffic to Facebook.

But it’s not just that Facebook is tricking its users; it’s betraying them.

Simple as that. So there I was, with a hysterical, drunken woman on the phone late one night.

“I don’t know how to change my settings on my phone!” she screamed. “I want her off, AV! GET HER OFF ME!”

“Give me your password.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I logged in and changed everything to the most restrictive setting. Better to shut everyone out than leave a door open. I even changed her profile picture (you can never make that friends-only, even if your profile picture album is).

The reason I’m telling you this is as a courtesy. There is a way to see how people can view your profile. Take a second to check it out and make sure it looks the way you’d like it to look whether it’s your boss, parents, kids, spouse, or that hottie you were talking at the bar last night.

If you have difficulty navigating the new settings, I suggest Valleywag’s Guide to Restoring Your Privacy on Facebook. They have great tips, complete with screen shots.

I know it’s a pain in the ass, my sweet flytraps of decadence and delight, but take the time to read the notices from social networks where you really share yourself. We’ve all heard the horror stories about firings and divorces as a result of inattention to our social network profiles.

Facebook and other social networks may have populations that compare to some of the biggest countries in the world, but they are not democracies. You have no rights. Nothing is safe and nothing is sacred. If it’s really incriminating, take it offline. Otherwise, be vigilant. Make sure you keep up on terms of service changes and upgrades. And every once in a while, take a look at your profiles when you’re not logged in to get a sense of what others are seeing.

It takes a few minutes but it will save you on a hell of a lot of nosebleeds. Trust me on that.

(Of course, if you’re in the mood for a nosebleed, go ahead and read this: The Facebook Privacy Settings You’ve Lost Forever.)

Do You Take It In The Ass? (NSFW)

February 3, 2010 Advertising, Culture, web 3 Comments

A question we’re sure a lot of people wish they could ask on a first date, but tend not to. As with anything that might be important to you, we here at Sex and the 405 think you should certainly ask. Don’t let them kid you, sexual compatibility is important in a relationship:

We are going to have this song stuck in our heads all day. The least we could do is share.

You’re welcome!

Via Peter Shankman.

Sid Vicious Died Today, 31 Years Ago

February 2, 2010 Culture, History, Music, Vitals No Comments

Sid Vicious, bassist for the Sex Pistols: a kid, an icon, a tragedy, a legacy. He defined a generation and the radiation from its zeitgeist-shattering explosion can still be felt today.

You know, if you look hard enough under the VersaSpa tans, over-processed vocals, and senseless Top 40 hits.

Oh, who are we kidding? You can’t. It’s mostly shit. Glittering, beautiful shit, but shit. The only motif that persists is drugs, but even that doesn’t really hit us the way it should — the paparazzi bulbs are too bright. It’s an expected disaster, all of it.

Other generations were defined by their music — it was the battle cry, the unifying force. We’re too bored, ADD and apathetic. It’s like we have nothing to fight for; we grew up with too much handed to us and now all we can do is sit around and bitch on Twitter. That’s our legacy. Bitching on Twitter.

Yeah, we saw your Grammy tweets. At least Taylor Swift is singing. At least Pink is swinging. At least Lady Gaga is pounding a piano and Beyoncé is hair-swishing.

We here at Sex and the 405 have an assignment for you today: do something. Actually take a stance by doing. Kiss someone, punch someone, make something.

Just, you know, don’t stab anyone.

Image from Mudkiss Magazine. Reminder via Robert Ebert.

Sex & God: Accepting the Sexual Soul

February 1, 2010 Causes, Culture, Faith 9 Comments

Sexuality and Christian spirituality have had a rocky relationship: from the Apostle Paul’s reluctant admission of marriage as a way to handle those who unfortunately “burn with passion” (1Cor 7) to medieval asceticism’s sexual renunciation to the contemporary puritanical disdain for sensuality, it seems like Christian spirituality and sex just don’t mix.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s assume God wasn’t screwing up or tormenting us in giving us this drive to the most intimate of physical connections with others. Instead, can we conceive as prayers those short, shallow breaths that come when we tangle ourselves in another person’s pleasure? Can we affirm sex despite a long history of critics?

If we look carefully at this criticism, it’s important to realize that asexuality was traditionally associated with the spiritual/mystical vein of Christianity. Some people have this idea that the church is somehow dependent upon condemning sexuality for its identity: Nietzsche was one of these people. The pseudo-historical argument along these lines is that purity codes within the Judaism of Jesus’s time and the Greek/Stoic sensibility of Paul put a strong damper on sex from the beginning, but that’s simply not true: sex shot through the early church.

The sexual tone to the early Christian witness was so strong, in fact, that Paul had to tell women to keep their clothes on in church when prophesying (1Cor 11:5-6,13-16) and had to explicitly rebuke the “orgies” and “debauchery” going on in Rome (Rom 13:12-14). So while Paul was certainly no fan of sex, it seems he was surrounded by people who were.

No, the early church was not particularly down on sex. Some itinerant or particularly zealous people took chastity as a spiritual gift, but it was widely accepted (even by Paul) that chastity was not for everyone. On this point, it’s curious to note that some women voluntarily went into chastity as a pro-feminine move. Seizing power through sex in this way was particularly prevalent among those women married to non-Christian husbands. That’s a seemingly bizarre tactic in a world shaped by the much-needed sexual liberation of the late 20th century.

Where sexuality became vilified was when the soul became divorced from the body, which was a product of Greek-style mysticism. While God in the Old Testament created us male and female and cared for us in our body and met us in our particular time and place, and while God came to us in the form of Jesus so that we might touch and feel God and witness the resurrection promised through the prophets, there was a moment shortly after the time of the canon when a foreign idea surfaced in Christianity. This idea, derived from Plato’s followers, asserted that that the soul was good and immortal and eternal while the body was bad and decaying and temporary.

Let’s disabuse ourselves right here and now of that idea. The bogus idea that the body is bad and the soul is good requires the ability to divorce the soul from the body—but no such divorce is possible. The soul and the body are in an inseparable dance, connected in the most fundamental ways.

Attempting to rip body and soul apart and consider each separately leaves both lacking. Talk about the soul without reference to the body results in a “soul of the gaps”: as science discovers more direct physical interplay in aspects attributed to the soul, the space left for a truly independent soul dwindles down to nothingness. Talk about the body without reference to the soul results in a mechanistic view that loses the big picture: our will shapes our physical reality in profound ways, and to see that we need only look at the shocking effectiveness of placebo treatments and the study showing that we make our own luck by believing we’re lucky.

By recovering the union of soul and body, we can recover the spiritual quality of the union of two people. In fact, when we reject Plato’s philosophy in favor of God’s revelation, we recover our ability to live and love our bodies again. We recover the divine in the day-to-day living, in the romance of candlelight, and in the eros of art. We recover the basic fact that there’s a wide world out there, and that it is Good. What that means for Christian conceptions of spirituality and for our own conception of sex are ideas for another time.

Robert Fischer is Sex and the 405′s spiritual scholar and cultural commentator. Behold the sacred and the profane — he’ll shy away from nothing. Well-versed in mathematics, computer science and religion, this man is a bona fide intellectual whose musings on sex and culture are delicate as they are incisive. How could we resist? How could you? Follow him on Twitter: @RobertFischer

Valentine’s Day: Gaping Void of Love

February 1, 2010 Art, Culture, Interview No Comments

Our editor has the same argument with her mother every year about Valentine’s Day. It looks like this:

AV: I want a man to give me presents for no reason, because he simply can’t resist being reminded of me whether he’s in the shower or strolling around town.

HER: good luck with that. Men are goal-oriented creatures. They need execution dates and a general template to follow or defy, hence the importance of holidays, anniversaries and birthdays — and nudges from us.

AV: that’s bleak, Mom.

Then, without fail, a few days before said holiday, AV will receive an e-mail from her father requesting approval of his latest gift. Everything from bizarre orchids (which her mother loves even though she invariably kills them) to a dinner in a tiny island only big enough for a table under a gazebo, with an ensemble of musicians in boats around them to serenade them.

AV got roses — once. From her ex-husband before he was her husband. Moral? UR DOIN IT RONG, AV.

So we here at Sex and the 405 have decided to do everyone a favor and put some options on the table for you, the first of which is a personal favorite of ours: art by Hugh MacLeod.

Somehow, our shameless editrix-in-command got the Wall Street Journal bestselling author to take a few seconds from his incredible creation schedule to give us some answers. We present these to you for your nomage:

AV Flox: Tell me about the Love Series — how did it come about?

Hugh MacLeod: The Love Series came about in 2007, when I was asked to design some Valentine’s Day promotion material for one of my clients. They went down a treat, and then when Valentine’s Day came around this year I decided to resurrect them.

AV: One of my favorite pieces by you “Commitment” isn’t on there — it should be. That’s love in a nutshell for me.

Your description you included with that piece goes like this:

Within 1 week of meeting this person you realize that not only have you found your soulmate, but you’ve found your soulmate who likes to have sex 4 times a day in the bed, on the dining table, on the kitchen floor, in the changing rooms at Bloomingdale’s etc.

Within 2 weeks you’re already talking about moving in together.

Within 3 weeks you’re talking about having babies together.

Within 4 weeks you realize this person is a complete psychopath.

Within 5 weeks this person also thinks you’re a complete psychopath.

Within 6 weeks you’re sitting at a restaurant with an old friend who is giving you the “How come you only call me when you’re single” speech.

Which is a really long way of asking: have you really had sex in a changing room at Bloomingdale’s? How was it?

HM: I never had sex in Bloomingdale’s. My parents gave me a double bed for my 17th birthday (“Hey, we’d rather have you doing it on that than in the back of a car…”), so from an early age I never had to scout out exotic locations, unlike some of my hapless single-bed school chums. That informed me as I got older.

AV: I have a queen-sized bed but I still love changing-room sex.

HM: The trouble with changing rooms, it’s impossible to spoon afterwards.

AV: But you can grab high tea at Neiman’s! [Laughs] Anyway, since we’re on the subject of the delectable: have you ever done a drawing on human flesh? If not, can I reserve the rights? Thanks.

HM: I once had a wonderful girlfriend who loved getting naked and getting me to draw on her. I was happy to oblige, but never really understood why it turned her on so much. I guess we all have our kinks, so whatever…

The lovely and charming Hermione Way asked me draw on her neck with a Sharpie last SXSW. But we were just having a laugh, nothing kinky happening there. She had already had a ton to drink that night (as did I), so when she woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror…

As for yourself, by all means! The next time you see me, bring a Sharpie!

AV: We all have our kinks, you say. What’s yours?

HM: It takes at least four cocktails to get the kinks outta me.

AV: Duly noted. So Valentine’s Day — because I have to ask — sweet or stupid holiday?

HM: I think Valentine’s day started off well, back in 17th Century Europe, where the idea was to send somebody a secret, anonymous letter that said, “I fancy you”. That’s pretty hot, to get one of those in the mail. But now we send Valentine’s cards to our grannies and vice versa. It kinda defeats the original purpose.

+++

There you have it, our sweet orchids of desire and destruction, the inimitable Hugh MacLeod. If you have an art junkie in your life, check out his gallery. If you’re a Twitter junkie, add him: @gapingvoid.

Closing words?

“Ladies, please always remember The Golden Rule: Men Are Stupid,” says Hugh MacLeod. “So if you want your man to get you one of these beauties for Valentine’s Day, do not assume he and his walnut-sized brain will be smart enough to figure it out on their own. Best to drop him a hint. Maybe kick him in the shins. Or something.”

Schools Pull Anne Frank’s Diary From Curricula Because of “Vagina” Passage

January 29, 2010 Books, Culture, Freedom, News 4 Comments

“There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it,” wrote Anne Frank in her famous diary. “The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!”

This, according to the Washington Post is the passage that caused Culpepper County, Virginia, school public officials to pull the book from the shelves.

This passage is present in the Definitive Edition of Anne Frank’s memoir, written between 1942 and 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.

This book is usually assigned to eighth-graders.

“What we have asked is that this particular edition will not be taught,” said Jim Allen, director of instruction for the school system. “I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. So we listened to the parent and we pulled it.”

The book will still be taught; the original work published by the girl’s father, Otto Frank, was heavily edited before publication in 1947, eliminating young Frank’s criticism of other people living in the Annex and all her discussions about sexuality.

It wasn’t until the 50th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death, in 1995, that the Anne Frank Foundation published the unedited, definitive version, which contains the passage. From now on, the edited version free of these passages will be used.

“I’m happy when parents get involved with these things because it lets me know that they are really looking and have their kids’ best interest (in mind). And that’s where good parenting and good teaching comes in,” Allen said.

Sex is evil! Water it down! Cut it away! Sanitize everything there is to read about it! Come on, world! This will definitely help our children grow up informed and aware!

If our sarcasm isn’t clear in the above statement, we’ll make it clear: we here at Sex and the 405 do not approve of this move.

I would also like to take this moment to thank my parents for sending me to private schools all of my life, most of which were run by super-progressive heretics.

Image from Amazon.com. Information from The Star Exponent and The Washington Post, via Eric Ludzenski.

Southern California Schools Take Back Dictionary

January 28, 2010 Books, Culture, Freedom, News No Comments

A couple of days ago we reported on a Riverside County district that had banned the dictionary because of the graphic manner that it defines oral sex (“the ora stimulation of genitals”).

According to the Huffington Post, a committee of parents, teachers and administrators decided this week to allow the kids at Oak Meadows Elementary School in Menifee to use Merriam-Webster’s. The school enables parents to opt to have their kids use an alternative dictionary.

Common sense prevails. Small victory in an epic battle.

Information via the Huffington Post.

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Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

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Editrix-in-Command:
AV Flox

In-House Theologian:
Robert Fischer

Eros and Desire Scholar:
Dawn Kaczmar

Scientific Consultant:
Jason Goldman

East Coast Liaison:
Jackie Summers

Arch-Nemesis:
Barbie Davenporte

Read about the contributors we've had over time on our staff page.

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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...