Friday, May 31, 2013
Hormonal influence on homosexuality
Rodent data so far only
A chemical usually associated with how happy we feel could also play a pivotal role in our sexual preferences, researchers have discovered.
A Chinese team found that blocking serotonin, known as the brain's 'happy chemical' caused female mice to switch their sexual preferences.
It is the first time that sexual preference has been reversed in animals without sex hormones.
Yi Rao of Peking University in Beijing, China, and his colleagues genetically engineered female mice so that they could no longer make or respond to serotonin.
'Female mouse mutants lacking either central serotonergic neurons or serotonin prefer female over male genital odors when given a choice, and displayed increased female–female mounting when presented either with a choice of a male and a female target or only with a female target,' the team wrote in their paper, which is published in the journal PNAS.
'Our results indicate that serotonin controls sexual preference,' they say.
'It's possible that the well-known effect of early sex hormone levels on partner preference and the serotonin mechanism described here are completely independent mechanisms,' Simon LeVay of Stanford University told New Scientist.
'In other words, serotonin systems may be part of the cascade of signals that translate sex hormone levels during development into sexual partner preference in adulthood.'
"Multicultural" Britain is a different place
Ricardo Miles, 21, Daniel Ikumelo, 23, and Adebola Alimi, 22, cycled through the streets of Hackney, east London, armed with a gun searching for enemies in a gangland feud.
When an unmarked police car pulled up alongside the trio, Miles turned and fired the .45 revolver at the officers. Fortunately the bullet hit the ground in front of the vehicle.
The gang members, including Adebola Alimi (pictured) were cycling through the streets of Hackney, east London, when the incident took place
Miles then tried to fire again, but the weapon jammed and he pointed it threateningly at officers as they sped off. They abandoned their bikes and threw away the weapon before fleeing over a footbridge on January 10 last year.
Miles, from Enfield, Ikumelo, from Islington and Alimi, from Hackney, are facing years behind bars after they were convicted of possessing a colt calibre revolver with the intent to endanger life, possessing ammunition and possessing a knife after a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court. They were remanded in custody ahead of sentence on July 5.
All three had denied involvement, claiming they were not at the scene of the shooting.
The court heard the trio, members of Hackney's Certified Southwold Road gang, had been looking for rivals from the Gilpin Square gang.
PC Richard Gilbert spotted the group acting suspiciously at around 11.30pm and approached them in the unmarked police care with another officer in the passenger seat.
'They were all fiddling with their waists, and I assumed they were going to drop something, or hide something, which is often the case,' he said.
'As they were doing that the male in the white produced a handgun and fired a shot towards us into the ground. There was a loud bang, a flash and then sparks just in front of the car where we were.
'I put the vehicle in reverse and tried to put some distance between us and the males in question. The male in white continued to point the gun towards us over his shoulder as they cycled away.'
Jurors were played CCTV of the three males firing at the car from only metres away in Mandeville Street, Homerton before fleeing over a footbridge towards Hackney Marshes.
They also dropped a knife at the scene, less than half a mile from the Olympic Park, the court heard.
Prosecutor Julian Jones said: 'These defendants were riding out into the Gilpin Square territory with the intention to endanger the lives of rival gang members.'
They were arrested in May 2012 after a long police investigation.
Jurors were read Blackberry phone messages between the defendants in the days after the incident saying they were 'on the run' because of 'madness'. The messages mentioned someone taking 'a burst at the feds', slang for shooting at police officers.
There was another message sent a day after the incident from Ikumelo, to Miles, the shooter, saying 'if you have a picture of the whistle (gun) delete them all now.'
In 2010 Miles and Ikumelo were given suspended sentences for affray after two fighting dogs were let loose in a train carriage packed with commuters at Stamford Hill station following a fight between rival gangs.
Detective Inspector Neil Bradburn, from Trident North East Shootings Team, said: 'Today's result is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by Trident which has lead to the conviction of three dangerous offenders.
'More than 1,000 London gang members are now either locked up or subject to legal restrictions as a result of activity by the Met's Trident Gang Crime Command.
'This investigation clearly demonstrates that tackling gang-related violence remains a key priority for The Met and we will continue to target and convict those who choose to carry weapons and cause harm in London's communities.'
A long view of women
One grows weary, or at least I do, of feminists who complain constantly of imaginary discrimination. It makes no sense. They are in almost the only place and time in which women are not mistreated. Those who do not read history may not know the extent to which woman really have been—tired word, but accurate—oppressed.
For the hell of it I made a list of all the men of classical Greece I could name in five minutes, thanks to courses in philosophy and to general reading. Of men, 25 and counting, of women, two: Sapho, notorious for being a lesbian, and Xantippe, Socrates’ wife, for being a shrew. (I didn’t count mythical women like Cassandra and Clytemnestra.) The absence verges on total erasure.
More women are known from Roman times, most conspicuously Livia and Messalina I suppose, but mostly as poisoners and villainesses. In general women were nonentities. Men had life-and-death power over their wives and daughters, meaning exactly that: they could kill them if they so chose. It was not a theoretical power, but one at least occasionally exercised. To an American man in 2013 this seems insane, even if he has had adolescent daughters.
The pattern holds with variation in details almost everywhere. American Indians, savages but hardly noble, subjugated women utterly. Foot-binding, as lunatic a practice as the mind of man has conceived, was common among China’s upper classes. In India women were kept in strict isolation in purdah and, should their husbands die, expected to immolate themselves on the funeral pyres. What all of this was supposed to accomplish, I cannot imagine.
So much for the idea cherished in semi-literate courses in Women’s Studies that non-Western cultures have been female-friendly. They have not.
But in this feminists are right: The three mid-Eastern religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, do indeed have a ghastly record. The Jews I think were least bad, subjugating their women but not waging actual war against them. Christianity was hideous. The Catholic Church for three centuries practiced systematic sadism against witches, torturing and burning alive uncounted thousands of women. Torture meant crushed bones, dislocated joints, molten lead, and other pleasantries ordained by the Vicar of Christ.
Today the church has softened. It has given itself to the minor consolations of pederasty and to urging women who can’t afford them to have large families. This is an improvement.
Islam, intractably primitive, follows still the old ways. Girls in many places are not allowed to learn to read. Horrendous genital mutilation is horrendously common. Why the world puts up with this is a mystery. If I had been the British administrator of colonies practicing such mutilation, I would have had the fathers strung up naked on the town square and castrated with a blowtorch. Barbarous? Yes. But the cutting would have stopped in about ten minutes.
Curiously, in America more fury arises from the suggestion that men may be better than women at mathematics than from tens of millions of bloody clitoridectomies practiced on screaming young girls. Nobody, not the UN, not feminists, makes an issue of it. This too is beyond my comprehension, but maybe I just don’t comprehend well.
So why have misogyny and subjugation of women—these are not quite the same thing—ceased in much of the world, and very much so in America? Said subjugation has been so widespread through all time that one might suspect it to be a trait genetically determined. But it isn’t. In Europe, North America above the Rio Bravo, Australia, and New Zealand among others, women are fully integrated into society.
Many places thought to be bastions of repressive masculinity no longer are. For example, Mexico crawls with female doctors, dentists, lawyers and such. About half of the students in my stepdaughter’s university (La Universidad Marista de Guadalajara) by impressionistic eyeball snapshot seem to be girls. Don’t buy stock in machismo. Slide rules have a brighter future.
Feminists believe that they brought about the change by a valiant struggle against long odds and awful men. (By which they seem to mean all men.) Not so, quite. Powerless groups seldom rise unless those in power decide to permit it. For example, Brown versus the School Board was passed by nine white men. Whatever one thinks of Roe versus Wade, the court was male.
It is odd that in America, where women enjoy historically unprecedented rights and opportunities, often greater than those of men—who don’t have affirmative action—feminists complain of oppression. It is fantasy. Consider the undying assertion that women are paid less than men for the same work. It was once true. Today there are fifty thousand slavering lawyers who would love to launch class-action suits, which they would be sure to win.
The trouble with basing your identity on fighting discrimination is that if you run out of discrimination, you don’t know who you are.
The attitude of European men to the change, to include most white American men, is interesting. Men I know are for it, though they may not think they are. Irritation with the unending bitching of the professionals of bitching, the compelled political correctness, the demands for special privilege, the noisy hostility of too many women—weariness with all of these can obscure a few truths:
American men do not want to oppress women. All the men I know very much like intelligent, educated women who do not wear chadors or burkas. They like athletic, adventurous women with whom they can scuba dive and camp. (My younger daughter got her scuba ticket at age twelve, muchly with her dad’s support.) Many of my male friends have daughters. If any university tried to exclude them because they were girls, a law suit would instantly ensue.
But one mustn´t speak of this. If you speak unfavorably of the ill-breeding and obnoxiousness of professional feminists, they say that you hate women. The tactic is common. Criticize the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis, and you hate Jews. Object to the beating to brain damage of whites by urban black mobs, and you hate blacks. Yet it is not the race, sex, or faith that one objects to, but specific behavior of specific members of these groups. A very different thing.
We live in the middle of a social order that is, so far as I know, entirely new. To those who have grown up in it, it seems normal and, now, is. Seen against the backdrop of three thousand years, the merging of women into the polity is astonishing. How it will shake out in the long run is uncertain, but it seems to work well enough. Spare me the nineteen-year-old bimbos in Women’s Studies at Dartmouth telling me how oppressed they are, on daddy’s dime.
Shoplifters and burglars get the right to work in schools and care homes in Britain
Burglars, shoplifters and violent thugs will be free to work in schools, care homes and hospitals under rules which come into force today.
Thousands of criminals will have their records in effect wiped clean after as little as two years – meaning they will be hidden from prospective employers.
The changes to the criminal records regime follows a human rights ruling in January.
Details about which criminals will be affected by the ruling emerged last night.
Under existing rules anyone wanting to work with children or vulnerable adults must disclose any previous convictions or cautions – which stay on their records indefinitely.
But the Court of Appeal judgment said that requiring some minor offences to be disclosed was a breach of an individual’s right to a private and family life.
Yesterday the Home Office announced which offences would be expunged and which would remain on people’s records when they face an enhanced criminal records check.
Anyone with a conviction or caution for burglary, shoplifting or common assault will see it removed after a set period of time – as long as they were not jailed for the offence or committed any further crimes.
Adult offenders will see convictions cleared after 11 years, and cautions after six years.
Young offenders will have no visible conviction record after five and a half years, and no caution record after two years.
All serious sexual and violent crimes and all terrorism offences will remain on records indefinitely.
Critics said the rules were a ‘slap in the face for victims’ and would allow potentially serious offenders to get into sensitive jobs.
Peter Cuthbertson, chief executive of the Centre for Crime Prevention think-tank, said: ‘Treating burglary as a minor offence is a callous insult to victims. Many people who are burgled lose treasured gifts and never feel safe again in their own homes.
‘Already many victims see burglars avoiding prison and receiving community sentences that don’t protect the public. To let those burglars have their criminal records wiped clean would be another slap in the face for victims.
‘If the Government wants to make this scheme workable and fair, they should ensure burglary always means a prison sentence so that no burglars will benefit.’
The changes to the Disclosure and Barring Service – which has replaced the Criminal Records Bureau – come into force today.
The appeal judges found in favour of a woman blocked from taking a job in a care home eight years after she was handed a police caution for theft from a shop in Sheffield.
The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said the decision to bar her from the job had breached her human rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
The verdict also included the case of a 17-year-old who failed to get a job at a sports club because he had to disclose a police warning he had received for theft when he was 11.
The judgment was condemned at the time for eroding the ability of politicians to ‘protect the vulnerable’.
Ministers have been given permission to appeal the judgment to the Supreme Court, and the case is likely to be heard in July.
The rules are being changed despite the appeal because of fears of legal action and demands for compensation. It is also feared that the original judgment raises much wider questions about the entire criminal records regime and when it can be used.
Civil liberties and privacy groups have backed the changes.
Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This is a victory for common sense and a long overdue change to a system that was ruining people’s lives.’
A government spokesman said: ‘This new system of checks strikes a balance between ensuring children and vulnerable groups are protected and making sure minor offences from the past do not make it difficult for people to get on with their chosen career.’
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.