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No, Scientists Have Not Found the ‘Gay Gene’

By Ed Yong

The media is hyping a study that doesn’t do what it says it does.

A woman works with human genetic material at a laboratory in Munich May 23, 2011. On May 25, 2011 the ethic commission of the German lower house of parliament (Bundestag) will discuss about alternative proposals for a new law on the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (Praeimplantationsdiagnostik) is a technique used to identify genetic defects in embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) before pregnancy, which is banned by German legislation.

This week, a team from the University of California, Los Angeles claimed to have found several epigenetic marks—chemical modifications of DNA that don’t change the underlying sequence—that are associated with homosexuality in men. Postdoc Tuck Ngun presented the results yesterday at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015 conference. Nature News were among the first to break the story based on a press release issued by the conference organisersOthers quickly followed suit. “Have They Found The Gay Gene?” said the front page of Metro, a London paper, on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, the mood at the conference has been decidedly less complimentary, with several geneticists criticizing the methods presented in the talk, the validity of the results, and the coverage in the press.

Ngun’s study was based on 37 pairs of identical male twins who were discordant—that is, one twin in each pair was gay, while the other was straight—and 10 pairs who were both gay. He analysed 140,000 regions in the genomes of the twins and looked for methylation marks—chemical Post-It notes that dictate when and where genes are activated. He whittled these down to around 6,000 regions of interest, and then built a computer model that would use data from these regions to classify people based on their sexual orientation.

The best model used just five of the methylation marks, and correctly classified the twins 67 percent of the time. “To our knowledge, this is the first example of a biomarker-based predictive model for sexual orientation,” Ngun wrote in his abstract.

The problems begin with the size of the study, which is tiny. The field of epigenetics is littered with the corpses of statistically underpowered studies like these, which simply lack the numbers to produce reliable, reproducible results.

Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there. The team split their group into two: a “training set” whose data they used to build their algorithm, and a “testing set”, whose data they used to verify it. That’s standard and good practice—exactly what they should have done. But splitting the sample means that the study goes from underpowered to really underpowered.


There’s also another, larger issue. As far as could be judged from the unpublished results presented in the talk, the team used their training set to build several models for classifying their twins, and eventually chose the one with the greatest accuracy when applied to the testing set. That’s a problem because in research like this, there has to be a strict firewall between the training and testing sets; the team broke that firewall by essentially using the testing set to optimise their algorithms.

If you use this strategy, chances are you will find a positive result through random chance alone. Chances are some combination of methylation marks out of the original 6,000 will be significantly linked to sexual orientation, whether they genuinely affect sexual orientation or not. This is a well-known statistical problem that can be at least partly countered by running what’s called a correction for multiple testing. The team didn’t do that. (In an email to The Atlantic, Ngun denies that such a correction was necessary.)And, “like everyone else in the history of epigenetics studies they could not resist trying to interpret the findings mechanistically,” wrote John Greally from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in a blog post. By which he means: they gave the results an imprimatur of plausibility by noting the roles of the genes affected by the five epi-marks. One is involved in controlling immune genes that have been linked to sexual attraction. Another is involved in moving molecules along neurons. Could epi-marks on these genes influence someone’s sexual attraction? Maybe. It’s also plausible that someone’s sexual orientation influences epi-marks on these genes. Correlation, after all, does not imply causation.

So, ultimately, what we have is an underpowered fishing expedition that used inappropriate statistics and that snagged results which may be false positives. Epigenetics marks may well be involved in sexual orientation. But this study, despite its claims, does not prove that and, as designed, could not have.

In a response to Greally’s post, Ngun admitted that the study was underpowered. “The reality is that we had basically no funding,” he said. “The sample size was not what we wanted. But do I hold out for some impossible ideal or do I work with what I have? I chose the latter.” He also told Nature News that he plans to “replicate the study in a different group of twins and also determine whether the same marks are more common in gay men than in straight men in a large and diverse population.”Great. Replication and verification are the cornerstones of science. But to replicate and verify, you need a sturdy preliminary finding upon which to build and expand—and that’s not the case here. It may seem like the noble choice to work with what you’ve got. But when what you’ve got are the makings of a fatally weak study, of the kind well known to cause problems in a field, it really is an option—perhaps the best option—to not do it at all. (The same could be said for journalists outside the conference choosing to cover the study based on a press release.)As Greally wrote in his post: “It’s not personal about [Ngun] or his colleagues, but we can no longer allow poor epigenetics studies to be given credibility if this field is to survive. By ‘poor,’ I mean uninterpretable.”

“This is only representative of the broader literature,” he told me. “The problems in the field are systematic. We need to change how epigenomics research is performed throughout the community.”

Complete Article HERE!

Putting A Ring On It

Name: William
Age: 30
Location: UK
Hi There
I am new to this scene, and I have very little experience in anal sex and I am seeking your help and advice. I am a top but I have a problem keeping my dick hard or staying hard during anal sex. I find it harder to fuck an ass compared to fucking a pussy. Here is the problem: Once I get my dick hard, put on a condom and start fucking, my dick sometimes goes soft on me. Is that normal? How can I keep my dick hard long enough in the ass to enjoy the fuck? Sometimes even when my dick is hard, I find it hard to penetrate an ass. I use lube, so what am I doing wrong? People in gay porn can fuck and fuck like there is no tomorrow. I want to enjoy anal sex too!! Any advice? Please let me know if there is anything I can do to improve in this area?

Boy, you’re in luck, William! One of my most popular tutorials, Finessing That Ass Fuck — A Tutorial For a Top, is waiting for you.  Check it out! It will answer a lot of the questions you have about butt fucking. You should also know that this is the companion piece to my tutorial for ass fuckin’ bottoms handsomely titled: Liberating The B.O.B. Within. Don’t know what a BOB is? No to worry, all will be explained.

gettin it from behindBut before you disappear to do your homework, I’d like to address one of the specific issues you raise, about keeping your dick hard while fucking. You are right to point out that fucking an ass (male or female) is different from fucking a pussy. But regardless of what hole you’re invading, a nice hard stiffy is essential.

Are you familiar with a cockring, William? If not, I suggest you acquaint yourself with these amazing low-tech wonders. Here’s what you should do. Mozie on over to the Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews site and search for my tutorial, Cockring Crash Course. (The search function in the sidebar will assist you.) Prepare yourself to be sorely amazed at the variety and functionality of these little devils.

Cock rings can create larger, firmer erections. Since blood flow enters your dick through arteries deep inside your dick, and leaves it through the veins near the surface of your tool; wearing a cock ring can help to keep more blood inside your dick shaft. And as all you rocket scientists know, blood is what causes erections in the first place. Also some men claim that wearing a cock ring intensifies their orgasm.armour up04

And while you’re on the sex toy review site, use the CATEGORY pull-down menu in the sidebar and look for cockrings. You’ll find it under the last heading, Sexual Enrichment. This will bring up all the cockrings we reviewed, and there’s a load of ‘em, don’t cha know.

I recommend the flexible and/or adjustable cockrings. These are generally made of stretchable rubber or leather. For the more daring there are the metal variety. These may look pretty, but they can be a bitch to put on and to take off. Here’s how ya do it.

  1. Pull your ball sack through the ring first.
  2. Follow this by popping each of your balls through the ring one at a time.
  3. Now bend your cock down and pull it through the ring.

As you can see, putting on one of these little buggers before you have a raging hardon is gonna make it a whole lot easier. To take the cock ring off, simply reverse these steps, pushing your flaccid cock back through the ring first, followed by each of your balls and finally your ball sack.

It’s absolutely essential that you not wear an inflexible (metal) ring for longer than a couple hours. Make sure you don’t buy one that is too small either. If your dick is turning an angry red or worse, purple, or it is cold to the touch, you’re in trouble. Take that ring off immediately. If you don’t you will risk serious injury to your precious johnson. Remember people, play smart with all your toys!

Good luck

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Some of the Most Incredible Facts About the Human Body


That’s right; most of you isn’t even really you. In fact, between 2 and 6 pounds of your weight is actually just bacteria. Feel free to factor that in next time you’re on a diet.

Scientists have discovered that there are small deposits of magnetite in human brains. While they’re not 100% sure why, a leading theory is that the magnetic crystals aid our sense of direction by drawing upon Earth’s natural magnetic fields. Similar deposits can be found in the brains of homing pigeons, dolphins and bats, who all use magnetic fields to navigate.

The muscle that moves your jaw up and down (called the masseter) exerts more pressure than any other muscle in your body — up to 200 psi on your molars! However, we still wouldn’t recommend trying to chomp through a jawbreaker.

You might not be able to run faster, but you can run farther! Human bodies are perfectly engineered for running long distances, and it’s believed we evolved this way in order to hunt more efficiently. In fact, this type of hunting — called Persistence Hunting — is still practiced by hunter-gatherers in Southern Africa. You can see a video of the process here.

There are a few other primates who can toss objects, but humans are the only animals who excel at accurate, high-momentum throwing. Some scientists argue that our ability to throw is very much responsible for our success as a species, as it gave us a way to kill strong animals from a distance. Today it comes in handy as a way to play fetch with your dog.

That’s right, GOLD! However, it’s only 0.2 milligrams of gold, which by today’s standards will net you…less than a cent. But still. It’s real gold. In fact, there are a lot of valuable chemical elements floating around your body, including Rubidium, Boron and Scandium (all valued at thousands of dollars per kilogram). All together, the chemical elements of an average human body are worth about $160.

Of course you know that your fingerprints are unique but, as it turns out, the shape of your ears is, too! Biometrics developers are working on ways of implementing this knowledge in order to easily identify individual people in crowds from CCTV footage or to take attendance in a classroom. If you’re looking for a way to evade this new technology, we recommend wearing a hat, or maybe investing in some Spock ears.

Both the shape and the pattern of bumps on your tongue are entirely unique to each individual. In fact, both your teeth and the bacteria in your mouth are also unique between people — even identical twins! So the next time someone calls you unoriginal, just stick your tongue out at them and show ’em how special you are!

A baby has over 300 bones at birth, but adults have only 206. So what gives? Did you just lose some bones and not realize it? Nope! Actually, many of the bones in a baby’s body fuse together to create bigger, mega-bones (not a medical term), and that’s how you end up with only 206 in adulthood.

Babies are born exhibiting a number of fascinating reflexes, including the ability to walk on a flat surface (as long as the baby’s body and head are supported). Another baby superpower is called the Palmar Grasp, which allows the baby to grab onto an object with surprising strength. In fact, some babies can even support their own weight (although we don’t advise trying to recreate the picture above).

And speaking of superpowers, here’s a shout out to your liver, which is basically the superhero organ of the human body. Your liver performs over 500 functions, including producing bile and cholesterol, removing bacteria from the bloodstream and — of course — clearing the blood of toxins from drugs and alcohol. Keep that in mind next time you complain about working overtime.


And if that’s not impressive enough for you, it’s recently been discovered that your nose can smell at least 1 trillion scents, making it the most sensitive organ in the body by a large margin. However, I think we can all agree that there are some scents you might be better off forgetting.

It’s called the Mammalian Diving Reflex, and it is seriously one of the coolest things your body is capable of. When you splash cold water on your face, your body thinks it’s going for a swim, and prepares accordingly. First, your heart rate slows down 10-25%. Then the blood vessels in your extremities constrict and send more blood to your lungs. As a result, you use up less oxygen and — if you were swimming — would be able to stay underwater longer.

Maybe the Mammalian Diving Reflex is what the people in face wash commercials are actually demonstrating…

Ounce for ounce, human bones can withstand a lot more pressure than steel. In fact, a cubic inch of human bone could bear a load of 19,000 pounds! Bones are also a lot lighter, less dense and more flexible than steel, which makes them a great material for, you know, supporting your entire body. Steel wins when it comes to building materials, though, because using bones would be a little too spooky.

Like, a lot of saliva. In fact, throughout the course of your lifetime, the amount of saliva you produce could fill the Olympic-size swimming pool pictured above…twice. Maybe even more if you spend a lot of time thinking about Warhead candies.

A single strand of hair can support about 100g (which is equal to about two candy bars). But twisted together, one person’s entire head of hair (consisting of about 150,000 individual strands) could support 12 tons of weight — that’s the weight of 2 elephants!

Not only is hair very strong, it’s also virtually indestructible. Aside from being flammable, hair won’t break due to extreme temperatures, and it’s also resistant to a lot of acids and other corrosive chemicals.

Although hair doesn’t easily break, you still lose between 60 and 100 strands of it every day. Think of how many elephants you could be lifting if you didn’t!

This reflex, known as the Photic Sneeze Reflex, is present in 18-35% of the population, and it causes people to sneeze when exposed to a change in light intensity (such as leaving a dimly lit building on a sunny day). Sneezing can also occur in some people after eating spicy foods, or even when they’re full after eating. This phenomenon is not completely understood, but we’re pretty sure it’s the lamest superpower ever.

While your eyes remain the same size throughout your entire life, your ears and nose will continue growing as you get older. This is partially due to the fact that they are made out of cartilage (rather than bone), but is mostly as a result of gravity. So they’re not actually growing as much as sagging. Regardless, you’ll be able to tell your grandkids “all the better to hear you with,” so that’s pretty cool.

Since fat is essentially an endocrine organ, it needs a supply of blood to function. So, as fat is added to your body, your body in turn constructs blood vessels and capillaries to provide blood to the fat cells. For each pound of fat, your body creates 7 miles of blood vessels, and that means your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. This is part of the reason why obesity is often linked to heart disease, and is also part of the reason why we’re having a salad for lunch.

Complete Article HERE!

Chlamydia at 50… Could it be you?

by Jenny Pogson

senior intimacy

If you think only young people are at risk of sexually transmitted infections, think again – rates could be on the rise in older adults.

With more of us living longer and healthier lives, and divorce a reality of life, many of us are finding new sexual partners later in life.

While an active sex life comes with a myriad of health benefits, experts are warning those of us in mid-life and beyond not to forget the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection from a new partner.

Figures suggest rates of infections have been on the increase among older people in the US and UK in recent years and there is a suggestion the same could be happening in Australia.

Chlamydia, a common bacterial STI, is on the up among all age groups in Australia, and has more than doubled in those over 50 since 2005; going from 620 cases to 1446 in 2010.

Gonorrhoea, another bacterial infection, has seen a slight increase in the over 50s, rising from 383 infections in 2005 to 562 in 2010.

While these increases could partly be attributable to more people being tested, the trend has caused concern in some parts of the medical community here and overseas.

Cultural shift

Older people are increasingly likely to be single or experiencing relationship changes these days, according to the UK’s Family Planning Association, which last year ran its first sexual health campaign aimed at over 50s.

It’s much easier to meet new partners, with the advent of internet dating and the ease of international travel. Plus, thanks to advances in healthcare, symptoms of the menopause and erectile dysfunction no longer spell the end of an active sex life.

But despite this, education campaigns about safe sex are generally aimed at younger people; not a great help when it’s often suggested that older people are more likely to feel embarrassed about seeking information about STIs and may lack the knowledge to protect themselves.

And, as noted by Julie Bentley, CEO of the UK’s Family Planning Association, “STIs don’t care about greying hair and a few wrinkles”.

Risky sexual practices

Dr Deborah Bateson, medical director at Family Planning NSW, started researching older women’s views and experience of safe sex after noticing a rise in the number of older women asking for STI tests and being diagnosed with STIs, particularly chlamydia.

The organisation surveyed a sample of women who used internet dating sites and found, compared with younger women, those aged between 40 and 70 were more likely to say they would agree to sex without a condom with a new partner.

Similarly, a telephone survey commissioned by Andrology Australia found that around 40 per cent of men over 40 who have casual sex do not use condoms.

While the reasons behind this willingness to engage in unsafe sex are uncertain, Bateson says older people may have missed out on the safe sex message, which really started to be heavily promoted in the 1980s with the advent of HIV/AIDS.

In addition, older women may no longer be concerned about becoming pregnant and have less of an incentive to use a condom compared with younger women.

“There is a lot of the information around chlamydia that relates to infertility in the future, so again for older women there may be a sense that it’s not relevant for them,” she says.

However, the Family Planning survey did find that older women were just as comfortable as younger women with buying condoms and carry them around.

“There’s obviously something happening when it comes to negotiating their use. Most people know about condoms but it’s just having the skills around being able to raise the subject and being able to negotiate their use at the actual time,” Bateson says.

As with most things in life, prevention is better than cure – something to remember when broaching the topic of safe sex and STIs with a new partner.

“If you’re meeting a new partner, they are probably thinking the same thing as you [about safe sex],” says Bateson.

“So being able to break the ice [about safe sex] can often be a relief for both people.”

Stay safe

Anyone who has had unprotected sex, particularly with several people, is potentially at risk of STIs, says Professor Adrian Mindel, director of the Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre based at Westmead Hospital, Sydney.

“People who are changing partners or having new partners, they and their partner should think about being tested,” he says.

“Also think about condom use at least until [you] know [the] relationship is longer lasting and that neither of [you] are going having sex with anyone outside the relationship.”

The UK’s Family Planning Association also stresses that STIs can be passed on through oral sex and when using sex toys – not just through intercourse.

It also notes that the signs and symptoms of some STIs can be mistaken as a normal part of aging, such as vaginal soreness or irregular bleeding.

And remember that often infections don’t result in symptoms, so you may not be aware you have an STI. However, you can still pass an infection on to a sexual partner.

So if you are starting a new sexual relationship or changing partners, here is some expert advice to consider:

  • If you have had unprotected sex, visit your GP to get tested for STIs. This may involve giving a urine sample to test for chlamydia, examination of the genital area for signs of genital warts, or a swab of your genitals to test for STIs such as herpes or gonorrhoea. A blood test may also be required to test for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B.
  • If you are starting a new relationship, suggest your partner also gets tested.
  • Use a condom with a new partner until you both have been tested for STIs and are certain neither of you is having unprotected sex outside the relationship.
  • If you have symptoms you are concerned about, such as a urethral discharge in men or vaginal discharge, sores or lumps on the genitals, pain when passing urine or abdominal pains in women, see your GP.

Complete Article HERE!

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