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Florida: Outlawing Abortion?

March 4, 2010 News, Politics No Comments

A Florida legislator wants to outlaw abortion in Florida.

“I just felt like we’re destroying a lot of Florida’s children, and we need to stop,” said State Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights.

The bill he filed in February would make nearly all forms of abortion a first-degree felony for the provider, punishable by up to life in prison. And it’s gaining traction.

The St. Augustine Record comments:

Several states have tried, but failed, to outlaw abortion in the years following the landmark Supreme Court case. Florida twice tried to enact legislation that banned late-term abortions, in 1998 and 2000, and both times the state lost in federal court because the laws were seen as too broad.

Van Zant’s bill is a politically explosive issue to tackle in an election year, and many other Florida legislators say they don’t expect it to go far.

[...] Abortion bans have been introduced in four states — Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank with offices in New York and Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth Nash, a public policy analyst with the group, said Louisiana and Utah each successfully banned abortion in 1991. Federal courts declared both those laws unconstitutional.

South Dakota voters shot down two ballot measures, in 2006 and 2008, that would have banned abortion.

Lousiana’s Legislature passed, and then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed a total abortion ban in 2006, to become law only if Roe is overturned. Fourteen others states have total bans, either from before or passed since Roe, which, like Louisiana’s, remain unconstitutional.

If Van Zant’s law were to be challenged in the high court, it would face a group of judges that has become more conservative, although one thus far unwilling to overturn Roe.

Information from the St. Augustine Register.

Sex by Numbers

March 3, 2010 News, Research No Comments

60 to 100 million: Number of condoms that are improperly disposed of each year in the U.K.

7/8: Ratio of sex toys tested which contained phthalates (in concentrations ranging from 24 to 51 percent), to all toys tested, in a study conducted for Greenpeace Netherlands.

Almost 50 percent: Number of pregnancies in the U.S. which are unplanned each year; the U.S. has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies of all industrialized nations.

20 percent: Percentage of adults worldwide who has used a vibrator.

22 percent: the percentage of people worldwide who have had sex in the garden.

Image by Stephen Coles. Information from Planet Green.

An Auto-Delete App for Safer Sexting

Text messages. We’re willing to bet that eight times out of 10, these are the reason cheaters get caught — not that we have any experience with this or anything here at Sex and the 405. We never get caught.

Anyway, our dahlias of decadence and depravity, technology is smiling upon us again. Allow us to present to you an app especially suited to the misbehaving sexter (and low-budget spr-sekrit agent): TigerText.

Tiger for Tiger Woods, the professional golfer whose moral downfall was catalyzed by naughty texts? The founders claim the app was named before the debacle. Sure it was.

Interested? The app is free right now, so this is a great time to go snatch it up. Make an account with a username and password using your phone number and specify how much time you want to give texts before they expire.

Lifespan is the length of time a text will exist on the your phone, recipient’s device (whether the text is accessed or not), and the company’s servers.

Turning Delete History ON will remove all history of conversations from your device each time you close the application.

Turning Delete on Read ON will remove the message from the recipient’s phone one minute from the time the text is opened. If the text is unopened by the recipient, the default setting for text lifespan will come into play. In this case, that means the text will be deleted automatically in 15 minutes.

Drawback? The recipient must also install TigerText — fine if you have an iPhone, but versions for BlackBerry and Android are still not available.

Dear Bank: Get Out of Our Blogs and Bedrooms

Last week, TechCrunch reported on something terrifying: Citibank had blocked the business account of the brand-spanking new startup fabulis due to what they were calling “objectionable content” on the fabulis company blog.

What’s objectionable? Fabulis is a soon-to-launch social network seeking to connect gay men with amazing experiences around the world. From TechCrunch:

Could that be what Citibank is objecting against rather than the content on the blog, which is perfectly innocent any way you look at it indeed?

Now, in case you don’t know Goldberg: he’s an accomplished Internet entrepreneur, who had stints at the White House, AOL and T-Mobile under his belt before founding Jobster (and raising more than $50 million for the startup) and after that socialmedian (which he sold to Xing in December 2008).

For his latest startup fabulis, Goldberg has raised $625k in seed funding from the likes of Washington Post and Venture Partner at Mayfield Fund Allen Morgan, and essentially aims to become the leading social network and lifestyle website for homosexual men.

“And wtf. When did Citibank start reviewing blogs to decide who can bank with them?” asked fabulis founder Jason Goldberg in a blog post on the matter.

After more discussions with Citibank representatives, Goldberg learned that the bank had terminated the fabulis business account because the “content was not in compliance with Citibank’s standard policies.” Kater, a bank rep called to apologize, saying: “all 3 of the citibank individuals who over the past 24 hours each individually claimed that fabulis’ account was to be terminated for compliance issues around the content of our site, were all wrong to have said what they said.”

Eventually, fabulis received an apology from Bill Brown, who says he’s responsible for the Citibank Branches in Manhattan which said:

Jason,

We have not been formally introduced and I imagine that this is a poor way to become acquainted. I am responsible for the Citibank Branches in Manhattan and have just learned today of the challenges you have experienced in opening an account with us.

I apologize for any confusion about the status of your account and the Fabulis website. Whatever statements that were made by any Citi representative related to the content of your website were inappropriate and made in error, and I will review in detail what happened. You have my firm commitment on this point.

I truly regret any unintended message that my employees may have conveyed about your new business venture. I place great value on your business and assure you that Citi is committed to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. In fact, this week Citi has announced the financing for the True Colors Residence, a housing facility for homeless GLBT youth in New York City.

I recognize that, to this point, this dialogue has been carried out on the internet via postings. You may choose to post this apology, however, please do not doubt the sincerity of my message and the responsibility I have for ensuring our customers do not encounter a similar experience.

Safe travels,

Bill Brown

Embarrassed by the internet shitstorm that ensued, Citibank has gone a step further. According to a new report on TechCrunch, the bank is now reviewing and making changes to policies for their internet business account costumers.

Citibank Message About Internet Business Accounts

At Citibank, we have learned a great deal from recent customer issues related to Internet business accounts. Mistakes were made in some instances, in which we apologized and corrected the problem. These issues made it clear to us that the language in our branch procedures was not specific enough and left too much room for interpretation from one account to the next.

We recognized that we needed clearer and less subjective guidelines with regard to opening Internet business accounts. And there were clearly gaps in training and communications around these specific branch procedures. Based on all these learnings, we’ve taken action and this week we updated and clarified our procedures for opening all Internet business accounts.

Banks are required by law to conduct due diligence and understand the nature of business accounts. For Internet business accounts, we have made it clearer to our bankers what the due diligence process entails. For example, we will continue to reserve the right to decline or suspend an account if we find illegal or discriminatory content, or if the site involves gambling or pornography. Beyond that specific due diligence, however, we do not monitor or evaluate our customers’ web content.

We are providing additional training in this area to ensure the procedures are uniformly and correctly followed. Also, our bankers are now required to have additional consultation with senior level banking executives when questions arise about these accounts before making any final decisions. This will help to avoid misunderstanding and subjective decisions, and promote greater consistency throughout the process. And we remain committed to working with our customers to try to resolve any issues.

As a global organization, we also recognize the power and promise of diversity. In that spirit, we reiterate Citi’s commitment to serving customers, hiring talent and supporting a broad array of organizations that promote diversity. To learn more about our diversity efforts, please visit: http://www.citigroup.com/citi/citizen/diversity/index.htm.

These recent customer issues have been a useful learning experience for us. We again apologize for any misunderstandings that may have occurred. We are committed to improving every day and we’re working to better serve our customers.

One small victory for freedom in the age of accountability thanks to the internet. We consumers have a platform and a choice. Kudos to Citibank for taking note and addressing their epic #fail.

Live-Tweeting An Abortion

Last week the web went up in flames when a woman, by the name of Angie Jackson, began live-tweeting her medical abortion.

Jackson discovered she was pregnant the week prior, following the failure of her method of birth control. A single mom with a little boy, Jackson claims that she was was told that her pregnancy could cause a threat to her life and decided to abort the using the abortifacient mifepristone.

The Frisky did an interview with Jackson about the abortion:

The Frisky: What compelled you to tweet about your abortion? Why even “demystify” it for people? A lot of people consider an abortion something that should be private.

Angie Jackson: I guess I was so terrified going into this that it was going to be horribly painful, that I was going to hemorrhage. And I don’t want to be flippant that those things don’t happen [but] what I was trying to say to people who find themselves in this position is that I was relieved to find out that I had this non-surgical option [the abortion pill] and that I was early enough [in my pregnancy] to get it. I was so relieved to see how simple it’s been. The actual process has been like a menstrual period. It’s not foreign or scary.

The Frisky: You were on birth control — an IUD, correct? What happened to it?

Angie Jackson: It can fall out during heavy flow periods, which going by the dates and everything, my last period was about two-and-a-half weeks before I got pregnant, so in that period of time, I was thinking I was using protection but probably not. By the time I got the ultrasound, the IUD was not in there anymore.

The Frisky: So, you’re very blunt in the YouTube video, saying that you’re not ashamed about having an abortion. You just flat-out say, “I’m not ashamed.” Where does that come from?

Angie Jackson: I think any time that we are silent about things or secret about things, it is unhealthy. I say this as a sexual abuse survivor. When I stopped keeping secrets [about the sexual abuse] and starting telling somebody, life got better. I have kept that throughout my life And I’m an autobiographical blogger. I am very open with the internet about how I am. I am very open about who I am with parenting and mental illness … For me, this wasn’t very different. This was about me talking about who I am openly. For me, talking about things is just how I approach all the taboos of life. I think that secrecy is unhealthy. We don’t get help when we don’t talk about things. For women who do need counseling or support or love or understanding after an abortion, if they have to stay quiet out of shame, then they won’t get that help. I think talking about things really can make a huge difference.

I feel that I was reasonably responsible. This is a possible responsible answer to this problem. In my case, I do feel like this is the best decision. I talked it over with my son and my boyfriend, who are the only people besides me who get a vote. It’s still my choice, but I’m going to talk it over with the people that I love — not that my son understands it much. But I don’t see why I should be ashamed that I’m saving my life. I don’t think that I’m being a killer; I don’t feel like I killed a person. And I’m sure if I did, I would feel guilt. And that’s why [anti-abortion activists] try so hard to convince you that it is.

Here is some of the feedback she has received:

Tracie at Jezebel offered the following comments:

And while I think that what she’s doing is radically progressive and service-y (she describes in her tweets what a medical abortion feels like), I sort of wish that she didn’t feel the need to have to qualify or rationalize her decision by explaining that the pregnancy could have been detrimental to her health—although I appreciate and understand her full disclosure and honesty—because the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter why she made this choice. It only matters that she’s allowed to make this choice.

What do you think? Is this a public service or over the top?

Not In The Mood? Hit The Gym

February 18, 2010 Health, News 3 Comments

According to Sex & A Healthier You, a site dedicated to sexual health, metabolic syndrome is one of the greatest enemies of the libido. Why? Your cholesterol level and how well your body uses insulin are linked to your sexual health.

[Metabolic syndrome] is marked by high blood pressure, abdominal obesity (typically, more than 35 inches around the waist for women, 40 inches for men), insulin resistance high blood levels of insulin, low HDL “good” cholesterol and high triglycerides. If you have at least three of these markers, you may have metabolic syndrome.

In one study, researchers enrolled 100 premenopausal women with metabolic syndrome and assessed their sexual function with a commonly used test called the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI).

Compared to women without metabolic syndrome, those with the condition had a significantly lower FSFI score. While 77 percent of women without metabolic syndrome had “good” sexual function, just 55 percent of those with the condition did. In addition, about a third of women with metabolic syndrome had an “intermediate” function and nine percent had poor function compared to 21 percent and two percent respectively.

Working out and embracing fish, nuts and fruits in one’s diet go a long way. Not to mention that working out relieves stress and helps build endurance and increases our flexibility — key components in epic sexing.

Don’t just do it to be pretty. Do it to develop this body that belongs to you and only you so that you may enjoy all the pleasures it has to offer you.

Information from Sex & A Healthier You.

Bacon or Sex?

February 17, 2010 News, Noms, Research 2 Comments

A recent survey suggests that Canadians prefer bacon to sex.

The survey, conducted by Angus Reid for Maple Leaf Foods, discovered 43 percent of Canadians would take the nomy goodness that is bacon over a romp.

“We wanted to probe how deeply rooted Canadians’ passion for bacon is — and the For the Love of Bacon survey sure opened our eyes!” explained Adam Grogan, their vice president of marketing.

The survey involved 1,006 randomly selected Canadian adults.

And forget Dior and Givenchy, too. The survey found that when asked to rank various aromas by preference, 23% of men ranked bacon as number one.

This totally explains the bacon-flavored lipgloss we saw in our editrix’s drawer the other day. Man-pleaser.

Image from Alltop. Information from Perishable News, via Alltop. Thanks to Heather Meeker for the tip.

Sexual Conditions That Blow

February 14, 2010 Health No Comments

Remember the woman with Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome we told you about in November? The Telegraph, who initially made the report, had so much fun with it. Who wouldn’t want to cum 300 times a day, right? But sexual conditions are no laughing matter.

This oldie but goodie, from the humor site Cracked is a great little list of sexual conditions, explained so we get an idea of how much they actually suck — but, you know, in a funny way:

HYPERSEXUALITY

Commonly referred to as nymphomania by Internet perverts and perverts who still eschew technology but like the idea just the same; hypersexuality is what happens when your libido cranks the dial to 11 and leaves it there.

Frat guys throughout history have fantasized about dating a “total nympho,” thinking they’ll wind up with a special lady friend with a sex drive that rivals a three dicked hummingbird on E. It’s been the subject of more Penthouse letters than can possibly be counted.

“And this one time, she tried to have sex with me while she was already having sex with me. It was awesome.”

For menfolk, the condition is known as satyriasis, which is Greek for “having the wang of a goat-legged man” and it means you are now Wilt Chamberlain, minus the distraction of basketball.

Why it Would Suck:

Meet Heather Howland, developed hyerpsexuality after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage, which seems like a really awesome superhero background story. Not expected to live, she surprised everyone by waking up and trying to ride her husband like a Shetland pony.

Some of you guys are still rooting for the disorder at this point, but that’s because you’re probably assuming the “nympho” only has the hots for you. Unfortunately, that’s not how compulsions work. Howland estimates she boned about 50 random, and probably surprised, strangers in the two years since her accident.

Her husband frequently gets called home from work because she’s in the driveway trying to bone some random dude. Nowadays she can no longer work, and her ability to focus is on par with an eight-year-old armed with a television remote which, in this case, is shaped like a wiener.

Yeah, it turns out pretty much anything can stop being fun once you’re only doing it due to a short-circuit in your brain. And this is actually worse than say, compulsive over-eating or sleeping, because those don’t carry a stigma that will make you famous around the neighborhood and, well, on websites like this one.

Read the rest.

Information from Cracked, via Khayyam Wakil.

Condoms In Porn? Nope

February 11, 2010 News, Politics 1 Comment

In November, we told you about Darren James, a former porn star who contracted HIV in 2004 and unknowingly spread it to other porn stars. James has been trying to make it illegal for porn stars to have unprotected sex since, but it’s not going well.

Los Angeles County officials said it would be difficult to try to regulate the porn industry through the county’s Public Health Department. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public health chief, estimates that there are some 200 production companies with about 1,200 actors working in the industry centered in San Fernando Valley (AKA Porn Valley), located northwest of Los Angeles.

“We have no ability to police this,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Information from the AP, via the Chicago Sun-Times.

Middle School: Too Late For Sex Ed?

February 11, 2010 News No Comments

A recent study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health seems to have found that stressing abstinence-only may help delay sex in teens. This flies in the face of many studies done in the past ten years, as well as solid numbers on pregnancies and teens with sexually transmitted diseases.

The problem seems to be that these classes are coming to kids too late. Sandy Banks, writing for the Los Angeles Times, did some preliminary research and found 12 to 20 percent of middle-schoolers around the country are already sexually active.

John B. Jemmott III, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has spent years studying adolescent sex, thought that abstinence classes, properly constructed and taught, could help prevent adolescent sexual involvement. And in fact, one-third of the middle-schoolers taught abstinence hadn’t had sex two years later, compared to more than half of the students enrolled in other sex ed classes.

That’s considered success, he said. “But when we began with these young adolescents — sixth- and seventh-graders — 25% of them had already had sex,” he said. “That means you have to start younger . . . and I’m having a hard time imagining what an intervention would look like for fourth- and fifth-graders.”

Um, whoa.

Information from the Los Angeles Times.

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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:
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In-House Theologian:
Robert Fischer

Eros and Desire Scholar:
Dawn Kaczmar

Scientific Consultant:
Jason Goldman

East Coast Liaison:
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Arch-Nemesis:
Barbie Davenporte

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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...