September 22nd, 2001


Female sexual response to porn

The Positive Powers of Porn
Stephanie Ramp

It has been generally assumed that women are less visually stimulated
than men. However, a study conducted by Ellen T.M. Laan, a
psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, challenged that
assumption. In 1995, The New York Times ran a story on her research,
which recorded a marked and rapid increase in genital blood flow (an
indicator of sexual arousal) when 47 female subjects viewed two clips
of pornographic video, one from a "male-styled" porn, the other from
one of Royalle's films. The study found no difference in physiological
arousal in response to the different clips, although most women
reported a negative reaction to the male film and a positive one to
Royalle's (no background information on the origin of the clips was
disclosed to the subjects). Besides proving that women are visually
stimulated, Dr. Laan's research also suggests that men and women have
an equal potential for sexual arousal.

Condoms and Seatbelts


Seat belts and condoms are two safety measures promoted to reduce risk
and save lives. But in Saturday's issue of The Lancet, three British
researchers pose an interesting question: Is it possible that some
people using these safety devices take new risks, such as driving
faster or having sex with more partners, to compensate for an
increased feeling of safety?

The investigators note that a new
analysis of statistical information in
Great Britain suggests that since the
advent of seat belt laws in many
countries over the past 20 years, car
drivers have adjusted to the sense of
increased safety they feel behind the
wheel by driving at higher speeds.

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Gorillas in Our Midst

June 11, 2001
New Yorker
Wrong Turn
How the fight to make America's highways safer went off course.

Daniel Simons, a professor of psychology at Harvard, has
done a more dramatic set of experiments, following on the
same idea. He and a colleague, Christopher Chabris, recently
made a video of two teams of basketball players, one team in
white shirts and the other in black, each player in constant
motion as two basketballs are passed back and forth.
Observers were asked to count the number of passes
completed by the members of the white team. After about
forty-five seconds of passes, a woman in a gorilla suit walks
into the middle of the group, stands in front of the camera,
beats her chest vigorously, and then walks away. "Fifty per
cent of the people missed the gorilla," Simons says. "We got
the most striking reactions. We'd ask people, 'Did you see
anyone walking across the screen?' They'd say no. Anything
at all? No. Eventually, we'd ask them, 'Did you notice the
gorilla?' And they'd say, 'The what?'" Simons's experiment
is one of those psychological studies which are impossible to
believe in the abstract: if you look at the video (called
"Gorillas in Our Midst") when you know what's coming, the
woman in the gorilla suit is inescapable. How could anyone
miss that? But people do. In recent years, there has been
much scientific research on the fallibility of memory--on
the fact that eyewitnesses, for example, often distort or omit
critical details when they recall what they saw. But the new
research points to something that is even more troubling: it
isn't just that our memory of what we see is selective; it's
that seeing itself is selective.

Why healthy fast food flops....

Malcolm Gladwell has a number of fascinating articles on his site. Be sure to check it out.

March 5, 2001
The Trouble with Fries
Fast food is killing us. Can it be fixed?
Malcolm Gladwell

Leann Birch, a developmental psychologist at Penn State, has
looked at the impact of these sorts of expectations on children. In
one experiment, she took a large group of kids and fed them a big
lunch. Then she turned them loose in a room with lots of junk
food. "What we see is that some kids eat almost nothing,"
she says. "But other kids really chow down, and one of the
things that predicts how much they eat is the extent to which
parents have restricted their access to high-fat, high-sugar food
in the past: the more the kids have been restricted, the more
they eat." Birch explains the results two ways. First, restricting
food makes kids think not in terms of their own hunger but in
terms of the presence and absence of food. As she puts it, "The
kid is essentially saying, 'If the food's here I better get it while I
can, whether or not I'm hungry.' We see these five-year-old kids
eating as much as four hundred calories." Birch's second finding,
though, is more important. Because the children on restricted
diets had been told that junk food was bad for them, they clearly
thought that it had to taste good. When it comes to junk food,
we seem to follow an implicit script that powerfully biases the
way we feel about food. We like fries not in spite of the fact
that they're unhealthy but because of it.

Soybean Powered Motorcycle

Soybean oil powers motorcycle
High-mileage cycle may travel from
Pacific to Gulf of Mexico with
just 12 gallons of fuel

By DAVE YONKMAN Staff writer
Holland Sentinel
Web posted Wednday, March 21, 2001

Hugh Gerhardt is working on a
lightweight, aerodynamic
motorcycle that he hopes will
travel from the Pacific Coast to
the Gulf of Mexico on a single
12-gallon tank -- of soybean oil.

If he can make it work, the Olive
Township resident's limited
production Honda 250cc built for
racing would almost certainly be
the first to make the 1,250-mile
trip from San Diego to Corpus
Christi, Texas, on food oil-based
"biodiesel" fuel, according to the
National Biodiesel Board at
Jefferson City, Mo.

"That would be amazing," said
Jenna Higgins, a spokeswoman for
the Biodiesel Board, a nonprofit
group that promotes biodiesel as a
gasoline alternative.

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Hybrid Diesel/Electric Motorcycle

Lean Green Cycling Machine
Dana Bauer
Penn State Online

The Lean Green Cycling Machine

The Combustion Lab where Jim Szybist works is, for all intents and purposes, a garage for gearheads: music
blaring on the radio, smell of diesel in the air, overflowing tool boxes, and engines lying in various states of
disrepair. But if you pay attention, you'll see computers silently chewing on data and detailed lab notebooks
spread open on countertops, and you'll hear the buzz of graduate students - men and women - discussing their
engine and fuel-related research.

This is a garage for academic gearheads.

Szybist, a first year master's student in fuel
science, has been working here since last
summer. (He doesn't even notice the diesel fumes
anymore.) He and his adviser André Boehman,
associate professor of fuel science at Penn State,
are collaborating with a small Pennsylvania
company called eCycle to develop a
hybrid-electric motorcycle. The cycle will be
powered by a diesel engine and an electric motor
working together.


The Underground City

Roger Ebert wants to turn it into a park.

The lease-holder of the 16 acres wants to build four 50 story buildings.

I say do both. But this time build down.

Fred Hapgood
March, 1998

For hundreds of years, from Dante's circles of Hell to the sewers of
_Les Miserables_, underground spaces have been portrayed as hellholes
of oppression, monotony, and confinement. And why not? Who wants to
live like a mole, like an ant? As open-minded and flexible as we
humans are about our addresses -- and we can be found in the hottest,
coldest, wettest, and driest neighborhoods on the planet -- it seems
only common sense to draw a line at moving into the realm of cellars,
vaults, and caves.

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