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A clearer picture of the prevalence of sexual violence emerged in the FBI’s recently released Uniform Crime Report, unburdened by excess descriptors. The Bureau no longer defines rape as “forcible” and, under that new definition, rates of rape surged to 14,400 reported cases in the first half of 2013, up from 13,242 during the January to June period of 2012. For 90 years, “forcible rape” was defined as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will,” but the definition has now been broadened and no longer uses a gender reference. The report counts 272 cities, encompassing about a fourth of the American population.


Almost two-thirds of female journalists taking part in a survey on harassment have experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in the course of their work, according to a study by the International News Safety Institute and the International Women’s Media Foundation, reported Dec. 2. Most incidents occurred in the workplace and were committed by male bosses, supervisors and colleagues, the poll found.


The recent study which “confirms” the differences between male and female brains has been roundly criticised by neuroscientists. However, there are some genuine differences that cannot be denied.

Unless you’ve been trapped in a lead-lined sensory-deprivation chamber this week, you’ve probably heard about the recent study that “confirms” the differences between the brains of men and women. Confirmed is in inverted commas because it’s very easy to “confirm” even the most surreal of notions with brain imaging techniques. As is often the case with scientific findings that get massive media attention, the science behind said “findings” is far from perfect. The study itself has been taken apart by the neuroscience community like a juicy lamb shank thrown to a tank of rarely-fed piranhas.

I won’t attempt to critique the paper here; there are plenty of people who have done that better. No, there is a lot of data already out there on the subject of male and female brains. However, the media coverage this study received implies that there is a great deal of public interest in knowing about the real differences between the brains of men and women. So what follows is a basic rundown of the more definite differences between the brains of men and women.

GENETICS

Male and female brains actually differ right down at the genetic level in quite a drastic way. Studies reveal that typically EVERY CELL in the male brain contains a Y chromosome. Quite alarmingly, female brains usually contain no Y chromosomes at all! This lack of a Y chromosome has many obvious physical effects, but most women still manage to lead normal, cognitively-unimpaired lives despite this clear deficit in the very DNA of their brains. Research into how they manage this is ongoing.

LOCATION

One startling difference between male and female brains is where they are found. It may surprise many, but male brains are found almost exclusively inside male skulls, whereas female brains are found only inside female skulls! Such an extreme bias in brain-skull association can’t possibly be due to coincidence. The fact that male and female skulls are also different and perfectly sized to house their associated brains is even more unlikely. Explain that with your so-called science, Richard Dawkins!

SIZE

As previously mentioned, there is an established size difference between male and female brains. Male brains tend to be bigger overall than female ones. This is also true for male legs, torsos and skeletons in general. Human men generally tend to be bigger than women, and this is reflected in brain size. Some argue that this means men are more intelligent than women. Using that same logic, human beings are intellectually inferior to elephants and sperm whales. Certain people may scoff at this very notion. “You never see elephants or sperm whales queuing for the latest version of the iPhone!” the might say, which probably doesn’t prove the point they think it does. Sperm whales and elephants also never publicly criticise statements made by figments of their imagination, so they’re doing well overall.

CONNECTIONS

Male and female brains differ in the connections they form. Most notably, the male brain is generally connected to a penis by various involved systems. The female brain lacks this connection and is instead linked to a vagina via a complex system of associations. The male brain-penis association seems to be more straightforward than the female brain-vagina one, but that may be due to the fact that the latter has a lot more bilge written about it.

PAIN SENSATION

It is generally believed that the male brain is better able to tolerate pain than the female one. However, the female brain is able to raise tolerance to pain when engaging in the process of ejecting a human from the pelvic regions. Thus far, no male brain has ever been recorded doing this.

SPECIALISATION

Observational studies have shown that the male brain is hardwired to be paid more, occupy more powerful roles and positions, and be more inclined to kill things randomly, whereas the female brain is hardwired to get more harassment and oppression, develop worrying obsessions with physical appearance and to care more about other humans and sometimes kittens.

Or, and this may seem controversial to many but it’s worth considering, it could be that the human brain develops in accordance to what it experiences, and things it experiences and is made to do more often are reflected in the sorts of connections that develop. This would suggest that there aren’t actually any marked differences between male and female brains. However, this would mean that there is no scientific basis for all of our stereotypes and prejudices about what certain sexes should/shouldn’t do and they all stem from irrational or unpleasant cultural influences that haven’t gone away yet, forcing us to admit to ourselves that our preconceived notions about certain sexes or genders are just self-fulfilling clichés with no logical basis, potentially threatening our beliefs, our positions and even our identity.

And we can’t have that, can we.

Dean Burnett has a male brain that probably isn’t working as it should, as demonstrated by his Twitter feed, @garwboy


Differences in the way the brains of men and women are wired helps to explain   why men are better at navigating while women can multitask.

It is something that men and women have both long suspected – their brains are   wired differently.

New research has confirmed that men’s brains appear to be configured to   coordinate actions with their senses.

Women’s brains, however, are set up to have better memories, to find   multi-tasking easier and to be better at gauging social situations.

The results seem to help shed light on why men are considered better at things   like navigating, parking cars and throwing balls while women are credited   with being better at multi-tasking, are more intuitive socially, and tend to   remember events like anniversaries.

The study, which analysed the brain structures of nearly 1,000 people, found   that men’s brains tend to have more connections within each side of the   brain and tend to run between the back and front.

Women on the other hand had more connections between the left and right side   of their brain.

The brains of men also contained more nerve fibres, while women had a greater   proportion of “grey matter”

brain graphs

Brain networks showing significantly increased intra-hemispheric connectivity in males (Upper) and inter-hemispheric connectivity in females (Lower). Intra-hemispheric connections are shown in blue, and inter- hemispheric connections are shown in orange. (PNAS)

The different patterns in the brains of men and women go some way towards   explaining the differences in behaviour and skills seen in men and women,   according to the researchers.

They claim that greater connectivity within a brain hemisphere, as is seen in   men, links the senses to the control of muscles.

More connections between the hemispheres of the brain, like those seen in   women, are better for analytical reasoning, social understanding and memory.

Tests on the volunteers taking part showed that women outperformed men in   attention tests, remembering faces and words, and social interactions.

Men, however, were better at processing spatial information about their   surroundings, controlling their movements and had faster reaction times.

Dr Ragina Verma, one of the researchers behind the study at the University of   Pennsylvania, said: “These maps show us a stark difference – and   complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide   a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at   others.”

Scientists have been using new types of neuroimaging in a bid to build   up new maps, known as connectomes, of how neurons in the brain since   2009.

The latest study, which is published in the journal Proceedings   of the National Academy of Sciences, examined brain scans of 949   people aged between eight and 22 years old.

The scientists used a form of brain scan known as diffusion tensor imaging to   map neural connections in the brain.

Few differences between the sexes were seen in children younger than 13, the   scientists found.

However, they became pronounced in adolescents aged 14 to 17 and older young   adults.

One particular brain area, the cerebellum, displayed an opposite wiring   pattern, with more connectivity between hemispheres in men and more within   hemispheres in women.

Part of the so-called “reptilian” hind-brain, the cerebellum is the   most ancient brain region and controls muscle movement, co-ordination, and   balance.

“It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really   are,” said Dr. Ruben Gur.

“Detailed connectome maps of the brain will not only help us better   understand the differences between how men and women think, but it will also   give us more insight into the roots of neurological disorders, which are   often sex related.”

By  at the Telegraph UK


The Cheneys are a political family, so it’s not too much of a surprise that the statement Dick and Lynne Cheney issued Monday in response to their daughters’ latest public rift over gay marriage seemed more designed to quell the political problem the spat could cause for Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Senate candidate, than to resolve anything between their daughters.

Heather Poe and Mary Cheney’s statements about how Liz Cheney treated them decently over the years have raised questions about whether Liz Cheney’s opposition to gay marriage is long-standing or a novel strategic pose designed to woo conservative support. Liz Cheney has already been derided as a carpetbagger in the Wyoming, which she recently returned to after a career in the Washington area, and fresh questions about her commitment to conservative principles could only further damage her already long-shot campaign to unseat incumbent Mike Enzi.

“This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,” the Cheney parents said in a statement. “Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”

“Liz’s many kindnesses shouldn’t be used to distort her position.”

The Cheneys did not mention daughter Mary Cheney or her wife Heather Poe by name in the statement, but Dick Cheney has previously defended Mary’s right to live as she wishes.

“One of my daughters is gay and [that's] something that we’ve lived with for a long time in our family,” he said during an appearance at the National Press Club in 2009. “I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish.”

“Freedom means freedom for everyone,” the former vice president said.

Those are the exact same words Heather Poe threw back in her sister-in-law’s face in a Facebook item Sunday: “I always thought freedom meant freedom for EVERYONE.”


Want to be the next superhero? Aim for a career in science and technology. Natalie Portman and Marvel Comics have teamed up to start the Ultimate Mentor Adventure, a program for high school girls interested in STEM programs. Portman was moved to participate after acting as an astrophysicist, Jane Foster, in the movie Thor and its sequel. The girls who are selected will be paired with a mentor in the science field and will participate in behind-the-scenes events. Forms and videos can be submitted until October 20. Instructions are available on Disney’s site.

via NerdApproved


In most probably a cheap marketing trick, American Apparel is offering a “Period Power” tee in collaboration with Canadian artist Petra Collins. Petra began her artwork at the age of 15 when she was working as a retail employee at American Apparel.  Now 20, she makes work that explores female sexuality and teen girl culture, which is how the $32 “Period Power” tee came into being. Some of her other Apparel designs include a “Wet Tee,” while she has art projects such as “We All Have Nipples.”

via Buzzfeed


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and director and  producer Steven Spielberg were among six people Wednesday to receive Harvard University’s highest honor in the field of African and African-American  studies.

Harvard honored its W.E.B. Du Bois medal winners at a ceremony Wednesday. The  medals have been awarded since 2000.

The Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research,  which presents the medals, credited Sotomayor with being the first Latina to  serve on the high court and for speaking frequently of her upbringing, helping  to influence and inspire children trying to succeed in the face of  adversity.

The medals were also given to senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett,  playwright Tony Kushner, Georgia civil rights activist and Rep. John Lewis  (D-Ga.), and NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Sotomayor said she was “deeply humbled” by the award.

“I am always reminded and continue to remember that I never stand alone because I do stand on the shoulders … of so many people in this room and  everyone who preceded me to open the door of opportunity,” Sotomayor said. “I  try to remember that paying forward is an obligation that I must not only undertake but that gives meaning to all our lives.”

The center cited Spielberg not only for his many filmmaking accomplishments  but also for his establishment of a foundation to record oral histories of those  who survived the Holocaust and other genocides. Those include the Righteous  Persons Foundation which provides grants to promote cooperation and  cross-cultural understanding among ethnically and religiously diverse groups  across America.

Spielberg, whose movie credits include “Lincoln” and “Amistad,” based on the  1839 mutiny of newly captured slaves, called the award “an incredible  honor.”

“This is a laurel upon which I promise not to rest but instead to keep moving  uphill because nothing gets done unless we’re all going uphill,” Spielberg said.  “When we get to the top maybe I’ll look down and say, well I earned it  then.”

Jarrett and Lewis were unable to attend the ceremony in Harvard’s Memorial  Hall.

Among those presenting the awards were Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and  former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell.


Rallying for immigration reform in Washington, D.C. on Thursday landed more than 100 women in handcuffs. U.S. Capitol Police arrested protesters, among whom were “20 undocumented women from 20 different states,” according to immigration reform advocate Vivian Lavitan. The protesters linked arms and blocked an intersection while calling for the House of Representatives to pass a Fair Immigration Reform bill for women and children. In addition to the protests, children donned “Don’t Deport My Mom” T-shirts and distributed heart-shaped cookies to Congressional representatives. The House has yet to pass an immigration measure like the one the Senate passed in June.

Read it at NBC Washington


This week’s feel-good story of the homeless man in Boston who found a backpack containing $42,000 in cash and travelers checks and then turned it into authorities is developing into an even better tale.

An online fundraiser to collect money for that Good Samaritan, who we now know is named Glen James, had raised nearly $64,000 as of 9:20 a.m. ET Wednesday.

The “Boston Homeless Man Reward” campaign was launched by Ethan Whittington of Midlothian, Va., who hasn’t met James, but felt compelled to see if other Good Samaritans would “help this man change his life.”

James was honored this week by the Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis “for his extraordinary show of character and honesty.”

According to The Boston Globe:

“James, a slight, bespectacled man in his mid-50s who says he has been homeless for five years, said the thought of keeping the money never crossed his mind.

” ‘Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a penny of the money found,’ he said Monday in a handwritten statement. ‘God has always very well looked after me.’ ”

The Globe adds that “in his statement, James wrote about how he found the money and a bit about himself. He had worked at a courthouse for 13 years as a file clerk, he said, before being fired. On Monday, the courts could not immediately confirm his employment. James could have gotten another job, he said, but he suffers from an inner-ear disorder that causes prolonged vertigo spells.”

The money he found last weekend belonged to a student from China who was visiting Boston. It was returned to the student.