Monday, April 20, 2009

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

[I]magine yourself, in love with someone, on your honeymoon or pregnant, when suddenly this guy just goes ballistic, often for very little reason, and hits you. For a lot of women, this is profoundly shocking and disorienting. There are things that are comprehensible parts of the world, even if they're rare, like having your car stolen; and then there are things that are unexpected in a completely different sense, like having your car turn into an elephant before your eyes: things that make you wonder whether you're completely crazy. Being beaten up by someone who apparently loves you is one of those things.

What this means is that precisely when a woman needs as much confidence in her own judgment as she can muster, the rug is completely pulled out from under her. And it's not just that she questions her judgment because she got involved with this guy in the first place; she questions her judgment because something so completely alien to the world she thinks she knows has just happened.

Under the circumstances, it is very, very hard to say: well, OK, I am married and/or pregnant, I am in this serious relationship, but I will nonetheless decide to leave, now, because I think I have to, and I trust my judgment. Trusting your judgment at that moment is like trusting your sense of balance when someone has just poured a fifth of vodka down your throat.


Read between the lines of a recent study out of Australia and you can see hints of a coming shift in the gender conversation. Researchers at the University of Queensland found that children born to older fathers have, on average, lower scores on tests of intelligence than those born to younger dads. Data they analyzed from more than 33,000 American children showed that the older the man when a child is conceived, the lower a child’s score is likely to be on tests of concentration, memory, reasoning and reading skills, at least through age 7.

It was a small difference -- just a few I.Q. points separated a child born to a 20-year-old and a child born to a 50-year-old. But it adds weight to a new consensus-in-the-making: there is no fountain of youth for sperm, no "get out of aging free" card. The little swimmers, scientists are finding, one study at a time, get older and less dependable along with every other cell in the male body.


Q: Why do I hate those big, sloppy kisses men seem to like? Is it me?

A: No. There’s more going on in that kiss than you know. And you’re right. Men, who scientists say like bigger, wetter kisses with more tongue involvement than women do, may actually be transferring testosterone to their would-be lovers in those wet kisses, in order to put them in the mood for more kissing. (Clearly it doesn’t work for you!) When it works, researchers say, two other hormones may play a big part in furthering the action. For kissing involves not only the bonding hormone, oxytocin (found in abundance in new mothers), but also the stress hormone cortisol (found in abundance in everyone). Kissing -- and holding hands, although to a lesser degree -- both reduce the stress hormone and increase the bonding hormone. Which may account for why more than 90 percent of all human societies practice kissing.

A couple of weeks ago one [a reader] posted a link to another blog where the writer recounted discovering her ex-husband's secret cache of porn.

The films she cited sounded pretty degrading of women (and some would argue men as well) and the writer went on to make the surprising claim that her ex-husband's use of this type of pornography hurt her more than his physical and emotional abuse.

It made wonder do we have a right to pass judgment on another person's sexual fantasies or are fantasies the ore of reality; a true reflection of a person's character?


Sometimes, the human brain can seem astonishingly ill-equipped for modern life. Our Pleistocene olfactory cortex craves glucose and lipids, which makes us vulnerable to high-fructose corn syrup and Egg McMuffins. We've got an impulsive set of emotions, which makes us think subprime mortgages are a good idea. And so on.

If I could only fix one design flaw, however, I'd focus on our stress response. We're stuck with a mind that reacts to the mundane mundane worries of modern life - a falling stock market, a troubled marriage, taking the SAT - with a powerful set of primal chemicals that, once upon a time, were reserved for moments of "fight or flight". In other words, we treat everything like an existential threat, which is why a multiple choice exam can leave us panicky and breathless. The hypothalamus, it turns out, is an excitable drama queen, suffusing the bloodstream with adrenaline and cortisol whenever things get a little uncertain or unpleasant.


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