Before Roe vs Wade

Janet Gotkin remembers a time when young women had unsafe abortions…

“I was 37. I had two children and I found myself pregnant. There was no question in my mind I did not want to have another baby. My husband did not want another baby,” Gotkin said.

She said “it’s time to say the word ‘abortion…’”

Gotkin, a retired librarian and research entrepreneur, said whether legal or not, abortion has always been with us and will continue to be.

“Abortion has been available in home remedies for a millennia. The first recorded abortion came from ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. When people talk about ending abortion, they really talk about banning legal abortion with safe practitioners,” she said.

Just as an aside, before you think this was a problem for women alone…jive laws like Roe vs Wade were applied to men as well. As a young man in New England, when I had a vasectomy it was just as illegal as an abortion. My urologist swore me to secrecy. All the religious dogma applied to the law-writers in my home state’s legislature. They lived up to every piece of the non-science pie, perfectly willing to ignore any citizen’s rights.

Why not fine men $100 every time they masturbate?


“What if men had to undergo the same intrusive procedures as women?”

❝ A Texas lawmaker has proposed a bill that would fine a man $100 each time he masturbates.

The bill also imposes a 24-hour waiting period if a guy wants a colonoscopy or a vasectomy, or if he’s in the market for some Viagra.

Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Democrat, knows her bill isn’t going to get very far. But she proposed it last week to make a point and give male lawmakers a taste of their own medicine

❝ Farrar has long been an advocate of women’s health in a state that has made it extremely difficult for women to get abortions. And the bill, by pointing out a sexist double standard, is meant to shine a light on the obstacles women deal with when it comes to their health care.

Say, “amen” sisters and brothers!

Women’s brains scan as younger than calendar age – men scan as older

❝ Women tend to outlive men and stay mentally sharp longer, and a new study out Monday could explain why: female brains appear on average about three years younger.

❝ A machine-learned algorithm showed that women’s brains were on average about 3.8 years younger than their chronological ages.

And when compared to men, male brains were about 2.4 years older than their true ages…

❝ Scientists hope to find out if metabolic differences in the brain may play a protective role for women, who tend to score better than men on cognitive tests of reason, memory and problem solving in old age.

Evolution is a trip, eh?

Looks like compulsory voting helps to make voters better politically informed?

voting in Oz

US college graduates are far better informed about basic political facts than Americans with only a high school education, according to studies by the Pew Research Center. And men tend to know more about politics than women. At the same time, the US also has infamously low voter turnout compared with the rest of the world. Recent scholarship on voting laws suggests that requiring citizens to vote would not only up turnout — it might also help boost overall political awareness…

…In 2012, just 53.6% of Americans turned out to vote, according to Pew Research Center. Compare that with 80.5% turnout in Australia, where voting has been mandatory since 1924 and failing to vote is punishable with a fine of A$20. In addition to Australia, 25 countries make national voting mandatory, including Belgium and Turkey…

But compulsory voting has the potential to do more than just increase voter turnout, according to a recent analysis by Jill Sheppard, a political scientist and survey researcher at the Australian National University. Her findings suggests that in nations that enforce mandatory voting, a wider demographic spectrum is politically informed than in other countries…

For the analysis, Sheppard uses data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, which measures political knowledge by how many correct answers a survey respondent gives to three country-specific questions. The CSES data come from 133 election studies, from 1996 and 2013, held in 47 countries.

The CSES data splits countries into four categories by voting policy: strongly enforced compulsory voting, moderately enforced, weakly enforced, and voluntary.

In countries where compulsory voting is strongly enforced, those who scored well on the political knowledge questions hailed from all educational backgrounds. Not so in other countries (including the ones where mandatory voting is less rigorously enforced), where well educated voters tended to be much better informed than everyone else.

The effect on the gap in political knowledge between men and women was illuminating as well. In general, men tended to answer more of the political knowledge questions correctly than women. However, in countries with compulsory voting, this gender gap in political knowledge was much less pronounced than in other countries.

In other words, compulsory voting somehow relates to the more even distribution of political knowledge throughout the electorate.

Sheppard’s study isn’t alone. Of course, there may be other variables as important to the process as compulsory voting – which may be an effect rather than a cause. But, this certainly merits further attention here in the GOUSA.

Of course, the likelihood of states and the federal government agreeing to mandate greater participation in one of the features of our democracy much abused by lousy choices ain’t better than the proverbial snowball in Hell.

The tax American women pay on everything — just because they’re women

Whether you’re buying pink toys with your allowance as a kid or canes and compression socks in old age, it’s cheaper to be a man and more expensive to be a woman.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs studied nearly 800 products in 35 categories that people buy and use throughout their life — everything from onesies and baby shoes to razors and deodorant.

Products marketed to women cost more than products marketed to men 42 percent of the time. And men’s products cost more only 8 percent of the time. Over women’s lifetimes, the report concludes, the differences can easily add up to thousands of dollars.

And all of this is legal. While some jurisdictions, including New York, have laws about charging men and women different prices for similar services, there are no laws about different prices for similar products…

…The worst offender was shampoo: men paid an average of $5.68 per bottle of shampoo, while women paid $8.39, a 48 percent difference.

There is no reason for this — men’s and women’s shampoo uses the same ingredients. And although other manufacturers of other personal care products justify the difference by saying, for example, that men buy razors more frequently than women, women use more shampoo than men. The report concluded that women are asked to pay more of the cost of research and development, a major expense for cosmetics companies, than men are…

There are reasons why women’s products might cost more. Women’s clothing is cut differently; girls’ clothing, the report noted, often had more expensive trimming, such as ribbons, ruffles, or glitter.

But there’s a deeper reason, particularly for clothing and personal care products, as Danielle Kurtzleben wrote for Vox in 2014:

There’s an obvious answer here: society expects women to look a certain way. Put into economics terms, there’s a higher return on investment for beauty for women. Beauty products are becoming more popular among men, it’s true, but expensive skin cream is still optional. For women, all those trappings are more necessary.

And that matters well beyond your bank account balance, because it reinforces socially constructed notions of what it means to be a woman…

From the market side, all the reasons are nothing more than rationales. The defining characteristics of our society flow from the economics of profit. Profit rules. If you can optimize profit, increase profit between demographics you go for it. You’re a Hero of Capitalism.

We see it across a broad range of transactions. We see it most of all — ripping off women.

Finally — SHREDDIES have come to market in the U.S.!

UK-based inventor Paul O’Leary has received (as of 20th Jan 2015) a US patent for his ‘Underwear Garment’

“A significant amount of effort has been expended into research of clothing and, in particular, the aspects of underwear garments which help to promote confidence and self-esteem within a wearer. Such research and development has typically centred on specific areas of the human body, such as the chest or legs, resulting in a number of improvements in the form and function of, for example, brassieres, corsets and stockings. It is perhaps fair to say that less effort has been generally expended in this regard to the groin region.

The new invention – already being marketed under the tradename ‘Shreddies’ – is designed (amongst other things) to attend to some of these problems by filtering out flatulence via a ‘Zorflex’ activated-carbon back panel.”

RTFA for explanations of the science behind [pun intended] Zorflex and Shreddies.

Here’s a better posterior view from the marketing kickoff in the U.K..

Autoimmune diseases rising in 9/11 workers

The list of ailments afflicting the World Trade Center first responders has grown to include systemic autoimmune diseases…

The conditional odds ratio for autoimmune diseases rose by 13% for each month individuals spent working at the site…according to Mayris P. Webber, DPH, Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues.

And for those who spent 10 months working at the site the risk tripled the researchers reported…

“The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings and the subsequent building collapses and fires exposed rescue/recovery workers to aerosolized WTC dust, an amalgam of pulverized cement, glass fibers, silica, asbestos, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polychlorinated furans and dioxins,” they noted.

The result has been the development of various respiratory and other diseases including asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, and cancer in up to 70% of the exposed New York City fire department members, but the entire range of potential health effects is not yet known and may take decades to fully manifest.

Autoimmune diseases have been linked with multiple environmental exposures, including silica, hydrocarbons, and particulates.

These autoimmune conditions include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), dermatomyositis, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s syndrome, and most often have been reported after many years of exposure and predominantly among women.

The finding of an increase in autoimmune disease among WTC responders was “unexpected and highlights the need for increased clinician awareness of the possibility of these and perhaps other autoimmune disorders in their WTC-exposed male patients…”

The authors concluded that workers and residents should be closely monitored for these conditions. “The stakes are high because enhanced surveillance can lead to early detection and treatment, which has been shown to improve quality of life and reduce or delay organ damage including erosive joint destruction, kidney failure, pulmonary fibrosis, and hypertension.”

And so it goes. Disease and disability caused by industrial material and chemical can surface many years later. I hope, in this case, our government, the powers that have responsibility for support in unusual circumstances will respond with more pace and thought than they did to the ailments incurred by first responders.

Who is most likely to take truly idiotic risks and lose their lives?

Every year, a dozen or so people receive a Darwin Award. In the words of the award committee, “Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”

Their stories — though tragic — are often criminal, and will stretch your understanding of just how idiotic humans can be.

Take, for instance, the South Carolina man who spray-painted his face gold to disguise himself while robbing a Sprint store, then asphyxiated from the fumes. Or the pair of Belgian bank robbers who attempted to use dynamite to break open an ATM, but ended up demolishing the entire building, burying themselves in debris, and dying.

Recently, a group of British researchers decided to analyze the data provided by the Darwin Awards as a way of finding out whether men are more likely to engage in foolishly risky behavior than women — as has previously been indicated by studies of hospital records and financial risk-taking.

Their finding, published…in the British Medical Journal, isn’t a huge surprise, but it’s still pretty jarring: 88.7 percent of the Darwin Awards winners were male…

The researchers note that there could theoretically be some selection bias at play, and that the disparity might also just reflect known differences in rates of crime and alcohol consumption between men and women.

Still, the lesson here is clear: men are much, much more likely to take truly idiotic risks that cost their lives.

I’m not surprised. Are you?