German couple in court over noisy sex

A German couple have been taken to court because their bed made too much noise during their lovemaking.

Stefanie Mueller, 24, faced a fine for one night of passion with partner Lucas Zetsch, 25, that woke up the neighbourhood.

Police said they received ten complains from neighbours of the pair in the Berlin suburb of Lichtenberg on the night in question in July this year.

The pair were summoned under anti noise-pollution laws but they refused to pay the £86 penalty.

This led to a court hearing in Berlin where Miss Mueller, a hotel worker, said; “We weren’t that loud.” The judge said; “Perhaps not you, but your bed. We have witness statements that it was heard banging and squeaking around the neighbourhood from 11.30pm until 1.00am the next morning.” Mr Zetsch told the court: “It was totally normal sex, nothing exciting” – a remark which earned him a scornful look from Miss Mueller, who snapped: “Thanks – that was nice.” Then she left the court.

The judge threw the case out as the complainants did not show up for the hearing.


Is marriage becoming obsolete?

According to a TIME/Pew research poll released last week, 40 percent of Americans believe that marriage is becoming obsolete, up from just 28 percent in 1978.

In that same poll, only one in four unmarried Americans say they do not want to get married. And among currently married men and women, 80 percent say their marriage is as close as or closer than their parents’ marriage.

These seemingly contradictory responses reflect the public’s recognition of a new and complex reality. On the one hand, marriage as a voluntary relationship based on love and commitment is held in higher regard than ever, with more people saying that love is essential to marriage (Consider that in 1967, two-thirds of college women said they’d consider marrying a man they didn’t love if he met other criteria, such as offering respectability and financial security.)

But as an institution that regulates people’s lives, marriage is no longer the social and economic necessity it once was. People can construct successful lives outside marriage in ways that would have been very difficult to manage 50 years ago, and they have a far greater range of choices about whether to marry, when to marry, and how to organize their marriages.

This often makes them more cautious in committing to marriage and more picky about their partners than people were in the past…

Today, however, there are plenty of other ways to grow up, seek financial independence, and meet one’s needs for companionship and sex. So what might have seemed a “good enough” reason to enter marriage in the past no longer seems sufficient to many people…

These higher expectations are good news for many marriages. People who can meet the high bar that most Americans now feel is appropriate for the transition to marriage — people who delay marriage to get an education, who have accumulated a nest egg or established themselves in a secure line of work — typically have higher quality marriages than other Americans, research shows, and their divorce rates have been falling for the past 25 years.

RTFA. Lots of interesting questions asked. There are some readymade answers. I think you’d enjoy working out your own answers. At least I hope so.

Poisonally, I think a great deal of strengthening of relationships, marriages, has to do with the diminished effect of organized religion. Unreality and superstition – no matter how ingrained in a community – lessens the ability of individuals and couples to deal with life in a changing society.

Should airplanes look like birds?

Airplanes do not look much like birds — unless you were to imagine a really weird bird or a very strange plane — but should they? This question is exactly what a pair of engineers in California and South Africa inadvertently answered recently when they set about re-thinking the ubiquitous tube-and-wings aircraft architecture from scratch in order to make airplanes more fuel efficient.

The modern airplane design works well, but from a fuel efficiency standpoint, could planes be designed more aerodynamically — to lower drag and increase lift? Geoffrey Spedding, an engineer at the University of Southern California, and Joachim Huyssen at Northwest University in South Africa, felt they could in theory, but they lacked experimental evidence. Now they have it…

They started with a configuration where the entire plane is one big wing. Then they added a body designed to minimize drag and, most critically, a small tail, which essentially serves to undo aerodynamic disturbances created by the body. Spedding and Huyssen analyzed the airflows and at various relative angles for the wings, body and tail, searching for ways to achieve greater lift (the better for carrying cargo) and lower drag (for higher fuel efficiency). They made the stipulation that for any given mission, the best plane is the one that generates the least drag.

The flying wings alone provide an ideal (but impractical) baseline, since it’s hard to carry people or cargo in such a shape. The presence of a body, unfortunately, immediately lowers the lift and increases the drag. The addition of just the right kind of tail, however, can restore the lift, and reduce the drag, occasionally to nearly wing-only levels…

“The most important point is that we may be wasting large amounts of fossil fuel by flying in fundamentally sub-optimal aircraft designs,” says Spedding. “At the very least, we can show that there exists an alternative design that is aerodynamically superior. One may argue that there is now an imperative to further explore this (and perhaps other) designs that could make a significant difference to our global energy consumption patterns.”

Shucks. They left out discussion of ornithopters. I’d love to see an A380 flapping it’s wings.

Catholics weigh significance of Pope’s condom flip-flop

The Catholic Church is in a state of some confusion over reports that Pope Benedict XVI has overturned a long-standing church ban on condoms by saying that their use is acceptable in exceptional circumstances.

But it is not clear what those circumstances are. It was widely reported yesterday that the Pope has decreed condoms may be used against Aids, which would be a remarkable U-turn in the history of Catholicism. The church’s hardline stance on that has for years been heavily criticised. But some commentators suggest that the Pope seems only to be saying that the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV infections is only permissible under church teaching when they are being used by gay men…

In a series of interviews the Pope gave earlier this year he gives the example of the use of condoms by male prostitutes as “a first step towards moralisation”.

The problem is that the traditional Catholic disapproval of condoms is rooted in a long-standing teaching that contraception is not acceptable because it means that sexual acts are not “open to the transmission of life” – a law which most Western Catholics, of course, ignore. But since sex between men is not open to the production of children, the use of a condom there would clearly be only for the prevention of disease.

The key question is whether the Pope is also saying that for heterosexual couples the prevention of disease should now have primacy over the ban on contraception. That would indeed herald the start of a sea change in the church’s attitude. So far, the Pope is sending mixed messages…

The message wasn’t mixed when my family left the Catholic Church.

It was early days in WW2, most of the men in my father’s family were preparing to leave for war. The patriarch of our family, my grandfather, died suddenly of a heart attack. The sons and daughters and their spouses were gathered together at St. Charles Church in the East End of the factory town where we lived in the southern reach of industrial New England.

The priest walked down the line of eight brothers and sisters, all married but one. He questioned each about the number of children in each family and then cut loose, castigating all for not being the sort of True Catholic their father had been. They all had obviously been practicing some level of birth control. None had more than two children.

After the funeral, my father stepped forward to the priest and speaking on behalf of a united family he told him he could stick his church where the sun don’t shine. And they all walked out of a church that had not the least perception of human needs, the slightest concept of aiding progress in life for its parishioners.

Leading Republican “can’t wait for the blood bath”

Former Senator Alan Simpson is a Very Serious Person. He must be — after all, President Obama appointed him as co-chairman of a special commission on deficit reduction.

So here’s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. … When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.

Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize…

Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America’s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson “can’t wait.” And he’s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming…

Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits — an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But there’s no point appealing to the better angels of their nature; America just doesn’t work that way anymore…

How does this end? Mr. Obama is still talking about bipartisan outreach, and maybe if he caves in sufficiently he can avoid a federal shutdown this spring. But any respite would be only temporary; again, the G.O.P. is just not interested in helping a Democrat govern.

My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country.

RTFA. Many more examples of a political party committed to power and greed above national interest.

Many of my friends and family who have become ex-Republicans – they tired of being called Republicans In Name Only by the quislings now in charge – wonder and hope for a centrist party in lieu of centrist tendencies in the Democratic Party. Partly because they still hate to ally themselves with politicians they disliked for so many decades.

Meanwhile, step back, folks and watch the Killer Klowns try their best to shove these United States back into a depression.

Aged, damaged hearts yield stem cells to treat heart failure

Cardiac stem cells — even in elderly and sick patients — could generate new heart muscle and vessel tissue and be used to treat heart failure, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010.

Scientists surgically removed tissue from the muscular wall of the heart’s chambers in 21 patients. They then isolated and multiplied the cardiac stem cells (CSCs) found there. Most of the patients had ischemic cardiomyopathy (enlarged and weakened muscle due to coronary artery disease). Eleven also had diabetes. The average age of patients was about 65.

“Regardless of the gender or age of the patient, or of diabetes, we were able to isolate in all of them a pool of functional cardiac stem cells that we can potentially use to rescue the decompensated human heart,” said Domenico D’Amario, M.D., Ph.D., author of the study…

The researchers also examined stem cells’ biological properties that would influence their therapeutic value. They found that cells had long telomeres, or “caps,” on their chromosomal ends indicating that expanded CSCs retained a significant growth reserve, although less so in older or diabetic patients…

“Now you have a resident cardiac stem cell that is already programmed to form cardiac muscle, so this cell is already superior to any other cell you can take from other tissues,” said Piero Anversa, M.D., senior author of the study and director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine.

The scientists are encouraged enough to seek larger studies. Just one more direction where the compass of genetics serves as foundation for creative solutions to problems in an aging population.

Israeli police break up Yeshiva scam

The Haredi Vuvuzela

Israeli police broke up a scam carried out by ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups who faked ID cards for fictitious students in order to receive millions of extra dollars from the state.

Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police arrested six people after they found more than 1,000 fake ID cards during a raid on three ultra-Orthodox educational institutions in Jerusalem.

The fraud lasted more than a year, Rosenfeld said, and cost the government “tens of millions of shekels.”

Israel provides stipends for students who study at full-time Jewish seminaries, or Yeshivas, a policy in place for years, but one that has been facing increased opposition from the country’s secular majority.

Consecutive government coalitions receive support of ultra-religious parties just like old-fashioned ward-heelers who in turn get a payoff from the government treasury.

Certainly looks like it works well. For votes, I mean. Not honesty or education.