An alternative theory

Size really does matter when it comes to fertility as a new study suggests men who are infertile are also less well endowed.

Having a shorter appendage was more common in men who were struggling to conceive than in those with other genital health problems. The research, to be presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Colorado this week, is the first ever to link penile length with fertility.

It found that on average, men who were infertile were around one centimetre shorter than their fertile counterparts. Those without reproductive issues had an average length of 13.4 cm while those in the infertile group were 12.5cm.

Fertility is rarely a one shot issue.

Could be that larger – up to a size, an optimal one – just gets more shots at it.

This is a surprise, isn’t it

Mothers who give birth using donor eggs do not have the same connection with their babies as women who use their own eggs, a new study suggests.

Men who have children by AI might also have some similarly subtle difference. Anyone tested it yet?

For cuckolds do tend to have a different reaction. And all for the same reason of course.

It’s male rationality that’s the problem Love

Simply put, the research confirms that women recycle more, are more likely to support environmental regulations, know more about the scientific aspects of climate change and are more likely to express concern about its effects.

By all measures, men just seem to care less.

It’s not that they are engaging in aggressively anti-environmental actions necessarily; but on average they simply don’t appear as concerned as my female friends about excess packaging, carbon emissions, reducing plastic products, the zero-waste movement, or sustainability in general.

Some things are indeed important about the environment. Replacing all those coal fire plants with nice clean nuclear for example. Others are just wibble, like much recycling, or positively counterproductive, like using salmonella infested cloth bags instead of one use plastic.

It could also be true that men are simply uncaring thugs. But that’s a choice, a distinction, that should be made by examining the evidence. Or is that sort of logic too male in this discussion?

This seems entirely sensible

I’ve been married 27 years to a man I love very much. We’d always been happy and our sex life was passionate until 10 years ago, when he announced he wanted to live as a woman. There was no warning, no discussion, and I was shell-shocked; I told him that were he to have surgery, the marriage would be over.

We eventually arrived at a truce, whereby he agreed not to have surgery and I am trying to live with the way he presents himself, which is stereotypically female – using makeup, dresses, tights and a bra. I find this hard to deal with; although I was very attracted to my partner as a man, I find it impossible to be attracted to him as a woman.

I also recall a journalist (HuffPo? Verge? Summat) who had been a woman living with her wife and transitioned to male. The wife then took a girlfriend.

Maybe, you know, the wife was a lesbian who didn’t find men attractive? Possible?

Well now

It was also imperative to understand how the previous rulers of our land had presented this subjugation as normal, natural and benign; how they had been covertly selling us an American model of success and consumer affluence as the false solution to poverty and misdevelopment.

I’ve always thought that getting rich was a damn good cure for poverty.

You’re not going to like the effects of this

Millionaire owners of so-called ‘ghost homes’ in Britain’s richest borough could be ordered to fill them with families to cope with the housing shortage, The Telegraph can disclose.

The Conservative-led Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is lobbying ministers to change the law to allow them to move tenants into private homes which have lain empty for years in the borough.

However, the council needs the Government to make a small change to its powers so they can take action because they currently only relate to vandalised properties rather than those lying empty.

Campaigners welcomed the idea. Chris Bailey, of the charity Empty Homes, said: “We need to find a way to bring all England’s 205,000…

The effect of abolishing private property isn’t going to be limited to housing a few more people…..

This HES scandal

As far as I can see there are two competing narratives here.

1) Low bidder screws up and cannot actually do the job. Boo! privatisation.

2) Enviros and others have closed down the high temp incinerators required by the enviros for this waste. Nowt anyone can actually do until new one built.

Anyone got any idea which of these contains even a grain of truth?

Yes, great, why not?

As usual, someone gets a twee idea and doesn’t think it through:

According to Wednesday Martin, if you want to know how early humans organised their sex lives, before prudery, habit and agrarian production got in the way, you should take a look at bonobos. Once known as pygmy chimps, these primates are the closest thing we have to a living ancestor. Certainly, they resemble us more than the common chimp. They are fine-boned, with pink lips, proportionately long legs on which they can walk upright and hair that falls into a neat centre parting.

However that prissy hair-do is misleading. Bonobos are, as is well known, shameless sexual gluttons, especially the females. They wander around in a girl gang and, when they fancy a bloke, go up and put their arm around him. If he moves away the female follows him for a bit. Pretty soon, though, she gets exasperated by his coyness and turns to one of her girlfriends instead. Together they have a lovely time, rubbing their enlarged clitorises together, with murmurs of pleasurable excitement. If a boy wanders up at this point, he’s likely to be seen off with an exasperated nip for being far too late to the party.

Martin argues that we should all be a bit more bonobo (minus the nipping, obviously). Our cousins can teach us a lot about how human sexuality operated before it was corralled into an essentialist narrative about men being “naturally” polygamous while women “instinctively” seek out their one and only. Of course, this call to revision is not uniquely Martin’s. Although she has a PhD in anthropology from Yale, she remains a journalist, reporting and synthesising the work of such pioneering fieldworkers as Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Meredith Chivers, Alicia Walker, Cacilda Jethá and many more.

Chesterton’s Fence. Why don’t we do that? Why don’t we have herds, with the one male covering multiple females, the majority of men never passing on genes (actually, the majority of all men never have done). Why not like lions where the stud taking over the pride kills the cubs of his predecessor? Why this specific arrangement we have?

Some of Martin’s authorities, such as Brooke Scelza of UCLA, work with human subjects. Scelza’s research on the semi-nomadic Himba tribe of Namibia provides a window into alternative ways of dealing with what anthropologists call “extra-dyadic sexuality” (AKA consensual cheating). With the Himba men periodically away at remote cattle stations, their wives keep busy by “going to the far place to collect water” – another way of saying they bunk off to meet their lover. If a baby is the result, no one sees any reason to fuss: the child will simply have two dads (AKA partible paternity). Indeed, Scelza reveals that those Himba women who are particularly keen on going to collect water end up with more and healthier children than those few who to decide to stay “true” to their husbands. Might we actually be looking at a state of affairs, Martin asks, where, from an evolutionary point of view, a woman’s insistence on monogamy starts to seem just the tiniest bit selfish?

Yep, it is selfish. The reason for that being that a bloke who thinks he’s raising his own children brings along with him the resources he can generate to support his own children. Which increases the chances of survival of those children – a selfish act by that mother. Both in her own children gaining those resources and those of some other woman not.

Give up the claim to those resources and why not shag as you wish? Many men will be happy to oblige.

The why is important, d’ye see?

Didn’t they always?

School boys are making rape jokes in bid to score ‘lad points’, headteachers are warned

Why would the medium change boys?

School boys are using memes and social media to make rape jokes in a bid to score “lad points”, headteachers have been warned.

More than a third (36 per cent) of 11-18 year-old boys have shared racist or homophobic pictures, more than double the amount shared by their female peers, according to a poll of 20,000 children.

The survey, commissioned by the organisation Digital Awareness UK (DAUK) and Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), found that four in ten boys see offensive memes daily.

The other 6 are better at hiding their tracks.

Dear Lord, seriously, this person teaches economics?

Third, and for me most tellingly, the article is wrong. Of course most bank loan portfolios are valued at cost. What else would you value them at? They are assets, and very few people choose to repay more than they are lent, in which case cost is the maximum value at which they might be stated in most accounts.

Is he actually that much of an ignorant?

He has, I suppose, heard of the concept if interest? Which is something additional which people pay over and above the amount they borrow. And, if it’s a fixed rate of interest (as would often be true of bonds) then the capital value can indeed rise above cost if interest rates fall.

True, loans tend not to be at fixed rates of interest. But they can certainly be at fixed premia to a floating rate. And if the company’s credit rating improves it may well be that the premium doesn’t change. Producing a loan which should righteously be valued at above cost if we are to gain a true and fair view.

True, that last is somewhat specialist. But the idea that loans can only ever be at cost and no more because people don’t pay back more than what they borrow is just ridiculous.

How to kill your own thesis

Warrior women: despite what gamers might believe, the ancient world was full of female fighters

Followed by:

But while it’s true that the Romans would not have had female soldiers in their armies, they certainly encountered women in battle – and when they did it created quite a stir. The historians of the ancient world recorded tales of impressive female military commanders from across many cultures.

When something is rare enough to cause a stir then it’s not a world full of that thing, is it?

An important point that people seem to be missing

So it will be with larger applications. The very point is that they note and act upon patterns – ones that we can’t see, that we don’t know why are happening. Just as with markets – we might not know why the price of apples has risen, but we’re all getting the information that they have and are acting according to that incentive. The desire to audit all algorithms is missing the very point of having them at all.

AI has to be based on real-world information flowing in. For any result to be useful, the system must operate on the same rules as the real world, imperfections and all, and the very point of our doing all of this is to do what we ourselves cannot.

Any attempts to insist on full audits, moral compliance and preferred data aren’t just going to fail – they’re missing the entire point of the exercise.

Politics, eh?

May moves to end austerity
PM pledges billions despite Brexit uncertainty

Theresa May has declared that Britain’s decade of austerity is over with a pledge to increase public spending after Brexit. The prime minister used her conference speech to make a series of costly commitments that will limit the options of Philip Hammond, the chancellor, in this month’s budget. They also led to immediate demands for more money by other cabinet ministers.

If they get to spend the sweeties then I get to spend more sweeties!

Fancy that, I’m more notable than a Nobel Prize winner

Or rather, I’m more notable than a Nobel Prize winner before she gains her Nobel:

When the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm announced the Nobel prize for physics this week, anyone wanting to find out more about one of the three winners would have drawn a blank on Wikipedia.

Until around an hour and a half after the award was announced on Tuesday, the Canadian physicist Donna Strickland was not deemed significant enough to merit her own page on the user-edited encyclopedia.

The oversight has once again highlighted the marginalization of women in science and gender bias at Wikipedia.

Strickland is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo and former president of the Optical Society, but when a Wikipedia user attempted to create a profile for her in March, the page was denied by a moderator.

“This submission’s references do not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article,” said the moderator.

Soon after Tuesday’s announcement, however, the Wikipedia community scrambled to build up a profile, completing sections on her research, biography and – most critically – her awards.

But the belated recognition contrasted with that afforded to Strickland’s colleague Gérard Mourou – with whom she shared the award – who had a Wikipedia page in 2005.

As to why, no, I don’t think this is gender bias although it quite obviously is bias. It isn’t – objectively – true that some blogger and writer upon the internets is more important than an associate professor, male or female. But among those who inhabit the internets that inhabitant of the same milieu is perhaps more visible, possibly even better known in that particular community. While everyone in optics would be “Who the fuck is that Worstall bloke*?”

Bias, yes, but not gender such.

*Except the couple who work with scandium oxide thin film coatings but that’s another matter.