Monthly Archive for January, 2007

Is this porn?

Take a look at this article detailing the case of a young woman found to have a third nipple on the base of her left foot [Dermatology Online Journal]. (Scroll down to see the images.)

Usually a female nipple would constitute pornography in my book. Should it be so considered here? I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking!

My guess would be ‘no’ on the basis that it is very unlikely to result in erotic arousal. But is that a valid argument? Does that mean that images of nudity of sensitive parts of the body are not pornography if they are taken in such a way as to avoid (or indeed suppress) arousal? On what basis can we determine whether an image is likely to result in arousal anyway – given that people have all sorts of strange fetishes…

Thoughts please.

UPDATE: Okay, I fixed the link to the article so you can actually click through now.

Getting open-minded about manned spaceflight

I stumbled across an article on a possible change to UK space policy [The Times], based on an interview with the recently appointed Science Minister, Malcolm Wicks MP.

From the article:

The Government’s long-standing refusal to fund manned spaceflight could be reconsidered to allow British astronauts to join expeditions to the Moon and Mars, the new Science Minister has indicated.

Britain will be an active participant in American and European projects to explore the solar system and should not automatically opt out of missions with human crews, Malcolm Wicks told The Times.

While there are no immediate plans to pay to send Britons into space, the presumption that such missions are always a waste of money should no longer apply, he said in his first interview since becoming Science and Innovation Minister in November.

It’s about time someone in government showed a degree of pragmatism. I reluctantly accept that the UK was right to cancel the bulk of its space programme in the last century – the economy simply couldn’t afford to sustain it and there was no way we could muster the resources to compete with the USA and USSR in their race. Yet, we now live in a completely different age. There is much more private sector involvement in space exploitation, there are many more space-faring nations, and much more of an emphasis on international collaboration. This doesn’t mean that we should rush into an expensive government-funded human spaceflight programme. On the contrary we should be careful to foster a home-grown space industry rather than throw tax receipts at a monstrous bureaucracy like NASA. Nevertheless the Minister is right to say that we should be open minded about astronaut missions and consider each on its own merits.

Tony Blair has a “department for happiness”

Just catching up on the newswires. This made my laugh: Happiness is a chat over the fence, The Sunday Times (7 January).

“People who take the time to chat over the fence to their neighbours, have plenty of sex in a stable relationship and care about endangered species tend to be happier, according to a report by Tony Blair’s ‘department for happiness’. Gardening, praying and going for walks are also all linked to broader smiles, says the study, written by a professor of economics at Imperial College London’s Tanaka Business School and circulated to ministers and senior civil servants… Paul Dolan, lead author of the report, said that while the evidence on happiness could be assessed, the practical implications for policy were likely to prove far more contentious.”

Credit: Imperial College Communications bulletin.

Hanging, what hanging?

I was amused to read this BBC news report, Hajj pilgrims react to hanging.

Saddam Hussein’s hanging is one piece of news that spread to most of the estimated three million people at the Hajj in Mecca within a matter of hours, in spite of the spiritual bubble that most pilgrims have been living in.

I have to confess I didn’t know Saddam had been hung until about a week later when an Iranian chap I met in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina asked me what I thought about it. I do recall hearing a rumour that he had committed suicide on that day but I was somewhat disinterested as I had just had my head shaved and was getting used to the sensation…

[Yes, I'm back from Hajj, btw.]