Linky-Links, Post-Frolicon Edition

I’m back from Frolicon and will be posting quite a bit about that, as well as urban spelunking, EEG orgasm studies, a couple of new bondage tutorials, and more on the MacWorld trip, a bit later. But while you’re waiting for all of that, I have about 60 browser windows open and my computer is running painfully slowly…so it’s time for the Post-Con Dump o’ Links!

Midway of the Absurd

First, we have Goodnight Dune, a parody of the children’s book Goodnight Moon. Anyone who loves the science fiction classic will quite like it. “And goodnight to the bene gesserit witch whispering ‘They tried and died’…”

And speaking of absurd wonders, you know steampunk has gone mainstream when people start making steampunk sex toys. That’s what you’ll find at Lady Clankington’s Cabinet of Carnal Curiosities — vibrators and paddles and more with a retro-steampunk flair. Nothing like a dildo that looks like a death ray, after all!

Over at Despair Inc, maker of demotivational posters, is this Adaptation poster: “The bad news is robots can do your job now. The good news is we’re now hiring robot repair technicians. The worse news is we’re working on robot-fixing robots–and we do not anticipate any further good news.”

An oldie but a goodie: Cave Man Science Fiction. “I am invent sharp rock to replace sharp stick!” “You go too far!”

From Gizmodo, This Terminator 2 cake is appropriate for almost no occasions. Well, that’s not entirely true–a Terminator going down into a pool of molten metal might be useful to datan0de

Combining support of legal euthanasia with love of extreme roller coasters, Deconcrete has an article about The Euthanasia Coaster, a roller coaster specifically designed to kill its riders.

Sex, Love, and Relationships

Psychology Today: Sexual Monogamy Does Not “Lead” To Happiness. A rebuttal to a New York Times article claiming that promiscuity leads to depression and sexual monogamy leads to happiness. (I could easily present myself as a counterexample to the NYT’s premise…)

On the sexual informatics front, OK Cupid, the folks who’ve given me several partners and done some serious data mining along the way, have done it again with 10 Charts About Sex, in which they plumb their formidable database for information about how likely a woman is to orgasm easily if she does or doesn’t exercise and the odds that someone enjoys oral, among other things.

Also from Psychology Today comes Open Marriage, Healthy Marriage? From the article, “Health and happiness are driven by growth, not stagnation. A healthy marriage is thus one that provides a stable, safe “home base” for each partner to venture out from, acquiring new experiences, and bringing them back home to digest and grow.”

News Review has an article about non-monogamy called Polyamory: Love, Multiplied, about a marriage counselor who deals with, among other things, polyamorous relationships. Overall a positive article, though the comments are about what you’d expect.

Video game maker Bioware releases a game called Dragon Age 2, in which player characters can become romantically involved, if they want to, with non-player-characters in all sorts of unconventional ways. When a straight male gamer complains about it being possible for his character to get hit on by a guy, Bioware tells him to shove off.

Rationality, Religion, and Atheism

A very interesting article over at Mother Jones explores the science of why we don’t believe science. Information by itself almost never changes attitudes.

On Thought Catalog, a Flowchart for How to Have a Rational Discussion. This should be required reading in every 4th-grade class. And 5th-grade class. And 6th and 7th and 8th…and once a year thereafter for life.

Someone has used Legos to create The Brick Testament — illustrated scenes from the Bible in the form of Lego dioramas. I particularly like the section called The Law, which outlines the Old Testament laws and rules. It answers pressing moral questions like When to Stone Your Whole Family, What Not to Eat, and what the Bible really says about religious tolerance.

From Epiphenomenon comes this article about the “atheists are greedy” trope, Atheists are Generous, They Just Don’t Give to Charity. Religious people overall are more likely to give to charity, presumably in hope of a supernatural reward–but atheistic societies are more likely to have strong social support systems.

Politics and Society

With the Republicans, who took a budget surplus and in eight years under George W. Bush turned it into a record-shattering deficit, call themselves “deficit hawks,” I tend to find myself laughing. These ‘tough on deficit’ conservatives claim to be trying to trim the budget, but as this chart shows, it’s more accurate to say they’re transferring wealth from the poor to the rich–in other words, new day, same old politics.

And speaking of the GOP, New Hampshire state Republican congressman Martin Harty says “the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions” are “defective people society would be better off without.” His solution to the problem of “defective people?” Ship them to Siberia!

From AlterNet: We’re #1 — Ten Depressing Ways America Is Exceptional takes shots at some of our most cherished myths. For example: Economic mobility, contrary to American misconception, is worse in the US than in other industrialized nations.


Along the lines of “Goodnight Dune,” here’s a list of amusing sci-fi children’s books I’d like to see, such as The Battlestar Bears Learn About Cylons.

From The Onion comes this cautionary report: Marauding Gay Hordes Drag Thousands Of Helpless Citizens From Marriages After Obama Drops Defense Of Marriage Act. I guess the Gay Agenda was real after all!

Wouldn’t it be nice if God released patches for reality, to correct some of the more glaring errors? In these Patch Notes for reality version 2.1, we get to see some of the benefits of the new revision. For example, “Greenland and Iceland have had their names correctly swapped.”

Science and Technology

Ever notice how hard it is to break a bad habit? Some folks claim that’s because behaviors exhibit an ‘extinction burst’–they become stronger when you’re trying to get rid of them. Maybe the behaviorists had some good ideas after all.

Can you get something for nothing? talks about whether it is possible for anything to spontaneously appear out of nothing. Short answer: Yes, it is.

From, an article that says the placebo effect may work in reverse, too–if you are given a dose of a real medicine but told that it is a placebo, the real drug in some circumstances may be less effective.

A report about an article in Science Translational Medicine suggests that tiny “nanodiamonds” made of very small clusters of carbon atoms may be able to deliver chemotherapy drugs into cancer tumors efficiently and with few or no toxic side effects that often attend chemo. From the article: “When the nanodiamonds are washed in acid, their surfaces gain carboxyl groups and they become “sticky.” Small molecules like doxorubicin and large molecules like strands of genetic material can grab on. The nanodiamonds even stick to each other when they are attached to doxorubicin, forming clumps with drug-filled pockets. These clumps stick around in mice up to ten times longer than unbound doxorubicin and release their drugs in a slow, sustained way. Plus, chemo-resistant cancer cells have trouble expelling the doxorubicin-diamond complex.”

I’m always skeptical of evolutionary psychology to begin with, and this article about sexual selection and casual sex rubbishes one of the evo psych’s basic tenets: men are the pursuers and women are the gatekeepers of sex because women are looking for a mate who will help them raise babies, whereas men want to procreate as widely as possible. Contrary to the evo psych description of mating strategy, “Gender differences towards casual sex be damned. The extent to which women and men believed that the proposer would be sexually-skilled predicted how likely they would be to engage in casual sex with this individual.”

This guy is almost as obsessive as I am. When his workplace encountered a number of faulty Kingston flash memory cards, he discovered that they were counterfeit, probably made after hours at a Kingston plant from defective materials. He then bought a bunch of bogus memory cards, took them apart, and traced down where they came from. Interesting detective work and interesting reading.

Just plain fun

People on the first flight in to Virgin Atlantic’s new terminal in San Francisco got a surprise: they were escorted in by White Knight Two and SpaceShip Two. A passenger took some amazing footage on a video camera from the jet liner’s windows.

In the “Eastern Europe urban decay” theme, we have 25 Abandoned Yugoslavia Monuments that look like they’re from the Future. Amazing stuff.

Detroit in Ruins is a gorgeous photo essay showing that Eastern Europe hasn’t cornered the market on urban decay. The city of Detroit is home to some amazing ruin, and these pictures are absolutely gorgeous.

And finally, on Vimeo is a fantastic video of some VERY skilled skydivers using flightsuits to do some amazing low-level skimming along mountaintops.

The South’s first and only nuclear weapon

On the way back from Frolicon, the three of us (joreth, emanix, and I) stopped in Cordele, Georgia, just outside Tifton ad home of the Titan-I missile I’ve stopped to admire before.

This time, the gate in the fence around it was open, ad I was able to get more up-close and…err, personal. I’ve never dry-humped a nuclear weapon before. I think I rather like it.

This is what an orgasm looks like

Orgasm button pressed
Orgasm button released

Numbers are 32-bit representations sampled at 1-second intervals showing delta, theta, low alpha, high alpha, low beta, high beta, low gamma, and high gamma brainwave activity during an orgasm by joreth. i love science!

OMG Tax!

I just did my taxes yesterday, and was kind of horrified to learn that not only was I not getting a refund, I ended up owing the IRS quite a lot more than I thought.

So in the interests of helping to ease the bite for all my blog readers, I’ve decided to create my own tax relief program. From now until the end of May, you can take $6.00 off the price of a registered copy of my sex game Onyx. And if you scored a tax refund this year, well, this is a good time to give the gift of sex!

Use the coupon code omgtax2011 in the shopping cart when you check out to get your tax relief.

Sex for Science! Chapter 1: The Genesis

Sex for Science! Chapter 0
Sex for Science! Chapter 1
Sex for Science! Interlude
Sex for Science! Chapter 2
Sex for Science! Chapter 3
Sex for Science! Chapter 4

San Francisco has a store that bills itself as the largest independent pirate supply store in the city.

I don’t know if it is in fact the largest pirate supply store in San Francisco or not, but it is indeed a large pirate supply store. lapis_lazuli and her partner brought us there in part because I needed some pirate supplies, and in part because it’s a cool place to visit.

The store sells really cool hand-made cast-iron padlocks. My sweetie zaiah has a large cage which will be part of the dungeon furniture once the dungeon is finished, and every cage needs a hand-made cast-iron padlock, so the pirate supply store turned out to be just the right place to visit.

The very cute young cashier who sold me the padlock asked me if I already had a use in mind for it. I told her that I did, and that would have been the end of it, except that she kept on pressing. “What do you plan to use it for?” she asked.

“A cage.”

“Like a cage for a dog?”

“Not exactly, no.”

“What kind of cage?”

“A big cage.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s part of the dungeon.”

“You have a dungeon?”

“We’re building one, yes.”

“What kind of a dungeon? Like for–”

At that point she turned a brilliant shade of red from the tips of her ears down to her toes and started saying “Oh my God” a lot. She also started stuttering quite a bit and generally looking flustered. Finally, after a lot of “um”s and “err”s and a bit of hand-flapping, she said something about it taking all kinds of people and turned away.

That was the second most fun thing that happened in the pirate supply store, for some value of “fun” that means “I don’t believe in protecting people from the results of their own questions.” The first most fun thing was when lapis_lazuli took me by the hand, looked me straight in the eye, and said “kiss me.”

Which I did. And then did again. She’s rather a nice kisser.

Smart, confident, direct women are sexy. Ahem.

The Porn ‘n’ Cupcakes, the tour of the submarine, and smooching lapis_lazuli in a pirate supply store all aren’t directly related to finding myself in a seedy motel room in Seattle with a bullet hole in the window and a door that looked as if it had been kicked down repeatedly, watching a tattooed grad student in striped socks having a huge screaming orgasm, but they’re indirectly related in the sense that I can perhaps be forgiven for having sex a little bit more on the brain than I usually do during the drive back to Portland, and to the idea that would inevitably bring us to that motel room in Seattle, to which I am by degrees coming.

In fact, the trip to MacWorld led to two different instances of watching a pierced, tattooed woman having a screaming orgasm. This story has several branches, which I’ll get to later.

At this point, the genesis of that idea that brought me to Seattle was less than twenty-four hours and a quick side jaunt through Shasta Caverns away. That side jaunt deserves a bit of talking about of its own.

Shasta Caverns is a cave system near Shasta Mountain, which has an interesting history. It was, apparently, discovered in 1878 by a Native American fishery worker who’d been out hunting and followed an animal through a small hole into what he believed would be a tiny niche in the mountainside.

Scott and I stopped at Shasta Caverns on the way back to Portland partly because our original plan, to head back along the coast and take pictures, was thwarted by reports of rain.

The cave system at Shasta Caverns is accessible only from the top of a mountain across Lake Shasta from the road. Entrance to the cave system involves taking a WWII-era landing boat across the lake, then taking a bus up a very steep, narrow, winding trail that’s so curvy in some places that the bus actually overhangs the edge of the road when it’s turning. The buses themselves were carried across the lake by that very same boat;, which was barely big enough to accommodate them; the guide said the landing ramp can’t be raised while a bus is on the boat, meaning that a ripple any bigger than a matchstick will swamp the boat while it’s transporting them.

The mountain itself looks like this from the edge of the lake.

I still have yet to get used to how folks just leave scenic natural wonder lying around all over the place here in the Pacific northwest.

The cave itself is small but quite spectacular. Unfortunately, a guided tour is the only way to go through it; visitors aren’t allowed to wander about on their own, the way they can at Carlsbad. Which is a damn shame, because I’d love to return here one day with a model and do some nude photography in this place.

Scott and I lagged behind the group as much as our patient and remarkably tolerant guide would permit, shooting long-exposure images from a pair of tripods. The cave system is small but spectacular, and features every type of rock formation that can exist in a limestone cavern.

After we left the cave system, through an exit five hundred feet or so above the entrance, we were confronted with this view:

At the very peak of the caverns is the remnants of this rusted ladder, which for nearly a century was the only way in or out of the cave system. The hole in the ceiling is the original entrance through which the cave’s discoverer made his discovery.

Detour complete, we hopped back into Scott’s car and headed north. That’s when it happened.

Scott has a habit of listening to books on tape via his iPhone whenever he travels–a habit which, by the way, I endorse.

On the trip down, he had introduced me to Wooster & Jeeves, which is pretty funny stuff. On the way back, he opted for something a bit different: Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life by Steven Johnson.

I’m not quite sure what made him choose that particular book. Maybe it was simply the next one in the queue. Maybe he’d decided that entertainment a bit more meaty than turn-of-the-centry tales about an incompetent buffoon and his hyperconfident butler might be suitable. Perhaps it was entirely random, and the hand of fate reached out to touch him. In any event, the moment he pressed “play,” the dice were cast, and the Seattle motel room became inevitable.

The book, you see, talks about a company called Neurosky.

Neurosky makes a single-chip EEG device that’s designed to be embedded in small electronic toys and gadgets. Neurosky got into business making neurofeedback devices–gadgets intended to train a person to control her own mental state by analyzing her brainwaves and then providing some sort of reward for reaching the goal state.

Their earliest gizmos were video game controllers, which would read the player’s brainwaves and let her control some part of the video game accordingly. They made a race car game, for instance, in which the harder the player concentrates, the faster the car goes.

More recently, Neurosky has started making chips for other companies. One of their customers is Mattel, who makes a toy called the MindFlex, in which you move a ball around by concentrating on it. The game has a motor connected to the chip’s outputs, so that when you concentrate, a fan blows and levitates a ball in the air.

Pretty cool, I think, for the first five minutes, and then probably quite boring after that.

To me, though, in my already riled-up state (and to be fair, my baseline state is pretty riled up to begin with), the connection was obvious. Here is a brain-scanning device that could be used to activate a motor.. Think about that for a minute.

A brain-scanning device. That could activate a motor.

The idea hit like a lightning bolt. If a MindFlex could turn on a motor attached to a fan, surely it could turn on a motor attached to something else, too. Like, say, a vibrator.

It was Twitter that provided the last bit of the puzzle.

On the drive home, I tweeted, as I always do. “Is sexual arousal a discrete brain state?” I said. “Can you use neurofeedback to condition it?” All good questions, I thought. That’s the nice thing about neurofeedback; you can use it to train yourself to be able to go into a certain metal state, like meditation or concentration, at will.

So why not apply the same idea to sexual arousal? If an EEG could detect sexual arousal, ad run a vibrator whenever the wearer became aroused, could it become a neurofeedback training device to teach people to become aroused whenever they wanted? And more to the point, wouldn’t be fun?

There are a lot of folks who read my Twitter feed. One of those folks is partnered to a neurobiology grad student who was thinking along similar lines, although for entirely different reasons. Shortly thereafter, she got in touch with me.

Of course I’d like to collaborate on a project involving hooking people up to an EEG and getting them aroused to see what happens…I mean, really, does the question even need to be asked? It’s Science, right? Science is something I’m in favor of, after all.

So you see, the seedy motel room lurking in my future was all part of the great enterprise of Science, the noblest of all human endeavors.