What multiple orgasms can teach us about our sexual lives

This is on in a series of short essays that will ultimately wind up in one or more chapters of my book Civilizations and Its Contents. A short precise of the book can be found here. This essay follows up some of the ideas in “You’re The Top: Active and Receptive Modes of Being in Life and Sex” Click here to read this essay full screen.  Continue reading

Patriarchy, homophobia and sexual fluidity in women

It is commonly held that sexual orientation varies in degrees rather than kind. Some men and women are exclusively interested in sex with their own sex; some are exclusively interested in sex and love with the opposite sex, while many of us fall somewhere between these two poles, being little more or less interested in our own sex or the opposite sex. Kinsey claimed that his research found that that most men and women were not at the far poles of his seven point sexual orientation scale but somewhere in the middle Yet it appears that women tend to be more sexually fluid than men. The percentage of women who have had sex with women is higher than the percentage of men who have had sex with men. More importantly, it appears that women are far more likely than men to pursue sex with both men and women during some… Continue reading

You can’t help free Palestine by embracing Hamas

I’ve been paying attention to what is going on in the Middle East not the reaction of people in the US and Europe to it. So I’ve been late to see some of the horrible reactions here and and there. If you are a critic of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians and a supporter of Palestinian statehood–or even of a one state bi-national solution–you should be appalled by and furious at Hamas’ attack this week. Not just because it was a deliberate and brazen violation of the rights of non-combatants and because the murder of innocent men, women, and children violates the rights of the same moral code and religious beliefs that serve as the basis of any call for justice for Palestinians. But because  the attack was not aimed at securing Palestinian rights but rather at killing every Israeli Hamas soldiers encountered. The nature of the attack  confirms  that… Continue reading

Learning from our bodies and failure

One of the endlessly appealing profoundly mistaken ideas found in science fiction is that idea that we human beings could take a pill or have a capsule or micro-chip inserted into our brains and then immediately have all kinds of faculties and capacities we previously did not have. This idea was prominent in The Matrix films, for example. But it certainly didn’t start there. I’m going to argue here that this idea is based on a particular kind of mind-body dualism that is ultimately rooted in ideas put forward by Socrates in some of the Platonic dialogues (although the extent to which Plato embraced these ideas is very much questionable). And I’m going to conclude that is a profoundly problematic idea that encourages us to think of our lives in ways that leads us to (1) misunderstand and become despondent about our bodies and (2) fail to understand how important… Continue reading

The Cruelty of Our Times

The worst part of our times is that cruelty, which has always come too easily to human beings, has now become the accepted mode of too much of our lives. And for so many reasons. Because we are so divided politically and so threatened by the other side we want to obliterate them. Because we are so threatened by the other side that we can’t abide anyone on our side who doesn’t think and talk exactly as we do, or who fails to rise to the same level of indignation at some offense that we do. Because we talk to so many people at a mediated distance, which makes it impossible to see the immediate harm we do to others with our words. Because political conflict, economic struggles, and endless choices make us so uncertain of ourselves and our future that we seek the constant affirmation that comes with showing… Continue reading

Championships and the Necessary Fictions of Life

As some of you have seen, Since Giannis’s post-game interview the other day, I’ve been looking at how we talk about sports in a new light. One of the necessary fictions of life is that success and failure in our lives are at least to some extent under our control. It’s a necessary fiction because if we don’t believe that to some extent, we will be discouraged, downhearted, despondent, and at the very least not put forward the effort we need to succeed. Or we wouldn’t be able to face the injustice of a world in which some people grow up in deep poverty and others grow up wealthy. Or we wouldn’t be able to deal with knowing that some of us are going to die young from an accident or disease, and others won’t. But it is a fiction because so much of our lives are not under our… Continue reading

“James Harden Sucks”

“James Harden sucks.” We’ve heard a lot of that in the week after he scored a career-high 45 points in a playoff game. I have some thoughts on that accusation. Those who don’t do work that involves some kind of public performance—or who do it but are not honest with themselves—don’t realize how varied our performance can be from one day or even one moment to another. Bill Russell wrote about this in his wonderful (second) auto-biography, Second Wind, which I read in my early twenties and has influenced me in many ways since. Russell said that after every game he gave himself a grade based on how well he performed, and reviewed things he did well and did not do well. IIRC he said that he averaged about a B. When I started teaching, I did the same thing. My teaching was almost done in a seminar format. if… Continue reading

Statement: PA Budget and Policy Center Lauds Passage of PA House Bills on Sexual Abuse

Today the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applauds the two bipartisan bills passed to allow those who have been past victims of sexual abuse in the state to sue their perpetrators and the institutions that protect them. Legislation creating a two-year window waiving the statute of limitations for these crimes is long overdue. And while we believe that there is no constitutional barrier to such legislation, we are also glad that a constitutional amendment allowing such legislation was passed today, as well, in case the Courts disagree with our analysis of the issue. We congratulate Speaker Mark Rozzi for his leadership on this important, deeply personal legislation. Continue reading

Climate Change, COVID, and Y2K: Thinking About Time and Causality

Sometimes I wonder how the human race as a whole, especially those of us in the so-called advanced countries, can be so unimaginably slow in recognizing the danger of global warming. There are, of course, many examples in history of civilizations and societies that did themselves in by engaging in practices, such as over-farming in ways that leads to the death of or erosion of vital lands. But this has typically happened to civilizations and societies that had no technological capacity to look ahead and see the long-term consequences of what they were doing. We have that capacity. Yet we are moving slowly, and possibly far too slowly to deal with global warming. Obviously, the political interest of the wealthy fossil fuel industry is a major barrier. And so is the anti-government ideology of the far right. But it has occurred to me from time to time that human beings… Continue reading