Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Tempest In A Teabag

Current mood: plainspoken

Category: News and Politics

From the New York Times Online:

February 18, 2007

With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar

By Julie Bosman

The word "scrotum" does not often appear in polite conversation. Or children's literature, for that matter.

Yet there it is on the first page of "The Higher Power of Lucky," by Susan Patron, this year's winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children's literature. The book's heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

"Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much," the book continues. "It sounded medical and secret, but also important."

The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children's books. The controversy was first reported by Publishers Weekly, a trade magazine.


I agree it was a poor choice of words. Nut-sack, which doesn't sound medical or secret or important, gets my vote.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What's Good For The Goose, Continued

Current mood: fair minded

Category: News and Politics

From YAHOO! News:

Sex of any kind can harm teens emotionally
By Amy NortonMon Feb 5, 9:44 AM ET

Teenagers often suffer emotional consequences from having sex, even when it's "only" oral sex, a study published Monday suggests.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found that up to one-half of the sexually active teenagers in their study said they'd ever felt "used," guilty or regretful after having sex .

Though such feelings were less common among teens who'd only had oral sex, about one-third reported some type of negative consequence.

Dr. Sonya S. Brady and Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher report the findings in the journal Pediatrics.

The study, according to the researchers, suggests that parents should be sure to talk with their kids about the potential negative effects of having oral sex, not only intercourse.

"When parents and teens talk about the consequences of having 'sex,' they may not take the time to define what sex is," Brady and Halpern-Felsher noted in comments to Reuters Health.

"It is important for parents to help teens understand that having oral sex may result in social, emotional and physical health consequences -- just as having vaginal sex may result in these consequences."

In particular, the study found, girls were twice as likely as boys to say they'd ever "felt bad about themselves" after having sex, and three times more likely to say they'd felt used (my italics).

SOURCE: Pediatrics, February 2007.


Oral sex is rarely mutual among teens, so it is only natural that many girls feel used. They are being used. If boys were "giving" as well as "receiving", there would be a lot fewer complaints.

Friday, February 02, 2007

What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander

Current mood: egalitarian

Category: News and Politics

From YAHOO! News:

Texas Gov. orders anti-cancer vaccine

By LIZ AUSTIN PETERSON, Associated Press Writer 2 minutes ago

Bypassing the Legislature, Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

By issuing an executive order, Perry apparently sidesteps opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents' rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way parents raise their children.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade — meaning, generally, girls ages 11 and 12 — will have to get Gardasil, Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Perry, a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research using embryonic cells, counts on the religious right for his political base. But he has said the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one that protects children against polio.

"The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer," Perry said in announcing the order.

Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating Gardasil for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.
Perry has several ties to Merck and Women in Government.

One of the drug company's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.

Perry also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.
Texas allows parents to opt out of inoculations by filing an affidavit objecting to the vaccine on religious or philosophical reasons. Even with such provisions, however, conservative groups say such requirements interfere with parents' rights to make medical decisions for their children.

The federal government approved Gardasil in June, and a government advisory panel has recommended that all girls get the shots at 11 and 12, before they are likely to be sexually active.

The New Jersey-based drug company could generate billions in sales if Gardasil — at $360 for the three-shot regimen — were made mandatory across the country. Most insurance companies now cover the vaccine, which has been shown to have no serious side effects.

Merck spokeswoman Janet Skidmore would not say how much the company is spending on lobbyists or how much it has donated to Women in Government. Susan Crosby, the group's president, also declined to specify how much the drug company gave.

A top official from Merck's vaccine division sits on Women in Government's business council, and many of the bills around the country have been introduced by members of Women in Government.


Circumcision markedly reduces the rate of cervical cancer and other sexually transmitted diseases, including genital warts and HIV.

Perhaps Texas should pass a law requiring all pubescent boys to be circumcised.