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Male Hysteria at Work

POLITICS/SEX - Do men have too much testosterone and don't realize when they have hysteria? Neuroscience suggests men don't know when to relax and can lead to financial and love life problems.

Usually we accuse women of having hormone-driven behaviour, but do men have testosterone mood swings? Apparently they do. Men are at the mercy of their testosterone and sometimes adrenaline mood swings.

Lets take for example the ultimate arenas of the alpha male:

#1. Hockey Fights / Violent Sports

Few places are more single-minded, avaricious, coarsely competitive, sharp-elbowed, and overwhelmingly male than violent macho sports. Testosterone driven men fighting over women, hockey pucks, who gets paid the most, side-checking and throwing punches.

The same can also be said for Ultimate Fighting, boxing, martial arts and a variety of other violent sports.

#2. The Military

Men with guns and permission to use it? Testosterone, stress, the constant threat of life and death, the emotional trauma of having friends die in combat? Its all an explosive cocktail recipe for disaster, corruption and bad behaviour. Its no wonder the suicide rate for soldiers is so high.

#3. High Finance

This is where risk-taking is the drink of choice and greed, at least until recently, was all good. Indeed some financiers argue that the current recession can be blamed on greedy and overly cocky male investors and bankers.

"I think a lot of it had to do with men not wanting to admit to other men that they didn't understand certain things that were happening," says Heather-Anne Irwin, a former investment banker and equity specialist, now with the Rotman School of Management. "There's a lot of bravado, aggression, guys trying to position themselves. It's easy for group-think to take over."

Especially in a place where money = status & power.

In the past, whenever anyone suggested that the finance culture is too aggressively male, a surge of foaming sexist ridicule was unleashed that women can't compete with men in high finance.

But that is no longer true. Now men are beginning to look like "too high risk" because male hysteria tends to take hold when groups of men begin to panic and spiral towards bad decisions.

"Clearly, something needs to change," says Howard Archer, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight in the U.K. "You can argue that men have made a right mess of it, and now the ladies should have a go."

A Cambridge University study points to a lot of non-economic reasons for the current American recession. Wall Street trader John Coates and neuroscientist Joe Herbert have discovered that it isn't calm calculation that drives markets up and down. Basic biochemical processes influence behaviour, they say, and should be taken into account for financial decision-making.

Last year, Coates and Herbert assessed the impact of the male hormone testosterone, which is tied to aggressiveness and risk-taking and well-known as a driving force in the finance world. They also examined the lesser-known "stress" hormone Cortisol, which affects mood and rises when a person is stressed or uncertain.

Before and after the day's trading they measured the hormone levels in the saliva of male traders at a London bank who spent their days buying and selling stocks, options, futures, currencies and other, more arcane derivatives. They're the type of hyperactive traders who are looking to make quick profits on daily trades.

What the researchers found was that a trader's morning testosterone level predicted his success during the day. Those with the highest levels made the highest profits, which in turn boosted their testosterone levels, their confidence and appetite for risk.

But prolonged high levels of testosterone start to have the opposite effect, leading to irrational or impulsive decision-making that can have disastrous consequences and result in a losing streak. For traders on a roll, said Coates, "several rounds of winning means testosterone so high they start taking stupid risks."

Market volatility also induces stress, which means the Cortisol hormone kicks in. When that happens their anxiety shoots up and so does their willingness to take stupid risks.

With Cortisol "you tend to see danger everywhere," Coates explained. "People get paralyzed by the fear. It takes over so that they're no longer thinking rationally. They're no longer doing the things that they should be doing to make money."

Long periods of Cortisol can make traders shun risk altogether, which then exaggerates any downward spirals. "Traders may feel the noxious effects of chronic cortisol exposure and end up in a psychological state known as `learned helplessness,'" said Coates. "If this happens, central banks may lower interest rates only to find that traders still refuse to buy risky assets."

These chemical swings could be partly responsible for market crashes and booms, say the researchers, and explains why market volatility tends to come in waves.

Its not just traders. The hormonal ups-and-downs of bankers, brokers, fund managers and executives play an even bigger role.

The solution to this problem? More women in boardrooms to bring some calm to the situation and lessen the hysteria so men aren't reduced to a testosterone and Cortisol driven mob mentality. Less than 20% of the people in high finance are female so increasing that to 40% should half the testosterone-based hysteria.

Take Iceland for example. Its two large banks have collapsed and its swaggering male "Vikings" have just been replaced by women – appointed by the new female prime minister of Iceland. The goal? To make Iceland's stock market less driven by risk and testosterone and more stable.

Unfortunately taking risks is what high finance is all about and the women in the business have been trained to take calculated risks just like men do. But do their emotions effect how well they do in the day? Evidently another study is in order.

Perhaps gender isn't the issue at all. Another new study by Chicago's Northwestern University suggests it's genetics that determines how humans, regardless of sex, evaluate risk.

Researchers gave real money to 65 young men and women to make a series of computerized investments. They could make risk-free ones, yielding them a small return, or high-risk ventures that could bring a big gain – or a big loss.

DNA samples were taken from their saliva to analyze the serotonin levels, associated with impulsive behaviour, and dopamine, the "feel-good" chemical that's linked to decision-making. Those with a "long" version of a gene related to serotonin were 28% less willing to take a risk than those with the "short" version. Those with a particular gene related to dopamine were 25% more likely to make a risky investment.

There was no difference between females and males. The study concluded that a person's genetic makeup accounts for only about one-third of his or her attitude to risk. Experience, cultural background and upbringing play an even greater role.

I think however what we need to do is scrap this daily trading nonsense. We should have one trading session per week, or even per month. It will give people more time to evaluate their decisions and make a decision based on the last week of careful consideration.

This business of buying and selling within minutes of each other so traders can make a half cent profit off several thousand shares is... frankly fruitless. What is even stupider is investment banks paying these people to trade other people's money, investing in Ponzi schemes, futures (futures is basically gambling on the future price of a commodity) and the amount of greed and corruption in the business.

As Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit told a U.S. congressional hearing: "We understand the old model doesn't work."

Blind Dates at Work

ENTERTAINMENT/SEX - I personally have never been on a blind date. I've always known at least a little about my would-be date. I've also never been stood up either, so I guess I have been quite fortunate in the area of love.

FYI, for those who don't know: A blind date is a date where the people have not met each other previously and the date has been arranged by mutual friends, relatives, etc.

But for those who are not, the bar scene, internet personals (ie. Goth Personals Canada), blind dating, picking people up at bookstores (like that episode of Seinfeld), libraries, the gym, etc. are the only ways they can meet people. I think clubs and sports works well. Join a co-ed street hockey team for example.

Blind dating in particular is considered the worst. Psychologists consider blind dates to be one of the most stressful emotional experiences, due to lack of self-confidence from both potential lovers and the fear of the unknown. (The other person could be a complete wacko after all.)

In Toronto there is also a comedy act currently playing at the Harbourfront Centre from March 3rd to 7th called Blind Date. The plot centers around an adlib comedian who has been stood up on her blind date (wearing a clown nose of all things) and a willing audience member who becomes her new blind date, and the hilarity that follows.

I'm not sure whether the comedian (Rebecca Northan) is promoting blind dating or dissing it, but the act sounds pretty funny.

For the more movies oriented there is also a Bruce Willis/Kim Basinger comedy made in 1987 called "Blind Date". In the film Willis is a workaholic who needs a date for a business dinner so his brother sets him up with Basinger, who turns out to be a wild drinker...

From my perspective, and likely most other people, blind dating is an act of desperation. And in this era of internet personals I'd also say its unnecessary. Why go out with someone you know nothing about when you could go to a personals site and find someone you have shared interests, beliefs with, and you can at least see their photo. There is a lot of free personals sites available now, along with premium sites that are geared more towards specific topics (like gothic Canadians in the site I mentioned above).

After all, Cupid may be blind, but you aren't. We are all superficially motivated and want someone attractive and with similar beliefs/interests.



Burglars and Porn at Work

ENTERTAINMENT/SEX - Check out this hilarious video from a British comedy "Man Stroke Woman" of a man watching porn while a burglar crawls in the window and starts stealing his stuff. I think it speaks volumes of the male obsession with sex.

Playboy at Work

SEX - The day may some day come when Playboy Magazine is no longer viable as a business.

And no, it was not be the feminists (see the links below) or the religious wackos that will shut it down.

No, what I am talking about is one of four possibilities:

#1. Everyone stops buying paper magazines and goes online instead.

#2. Men lose interest in Playboy Magazine's softcore photography and intellectual/alternative articles and stop purchasing magazines.

#3. Other men's magazines will squeeze Playboy out of the running. Magazines like Men's Journal, Maxim, Men's Health, Esquire, GQ, Sports Illustrated, etc.

#4. Hugh Hefner dies and his descendants fight over their inheritance and in the process the magazine either changes beyond recognition or is sliced up between his 4 known children, ex-wives and any illegitimate children that appear after his death.

Some of you may even be able to think of other reasons why Playboy Magazine may cease to be and admittedly this is all hypothetical.

Afterall Playboy is a HUGE international brand name, has tens of millions of loyal readers around the world, and regularly interviews famous personalities both historically and now. It seems highly unlikely that a corporation as big and as profitable as Playboy would lose enough market share to go into financial collapse.

But then again have you seen what has happened to Ford, Chrysler and General Motors lately? Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

Playboy's history is one of evolutionary decline. The magazine's initial package of analytical journalism and high-quality literature, artistically crafted nude photographs by photographers like Russ Meyer, innovative design, original artwork by Patrick Nagel and cartoons as Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman (founder of Mad magazine) made it a risque package when it originally hit newsstands in 1953.

The publishing of Playboy empowered the sexual revolution and made the magazine – in spite of and because of its lurid content – an influential voice in contemporary culture for a generation.

The Playboy that adorns the back row of magazine racks today is a slimmer, raunchier shadow of its former self. The 300-page monthly editions are gone. So are the exclusive interviews with world leaders. Subscriptions are down to 2.7 million from 3.2 million a decade ago and 6.6 million at its peak in 1972. The Publishers Information Bureau said ad pages through the September issue were 15.5% lower than a year earlier. Playboy Enterprises Inc. as a whole cut 140 people (17% of its workforce) in 2008, and Hefner's own daughter, Christie, chief executive since 1988, recently announced she would step aside amid growing losses.

So what is the solution? First of all, I think Playboy should get a new CEO/chief editor who can turn the magazine around, bring back the interesting articles, take chances on artists and cartoonists again... and push the magazine from the back of the racks to the front where it can sit beside Esquire and GQ, competing with its real competition instead of the pure smut in the back row.

Bring back the rich editorial content, the insightful articles that incite the mind. In this new era of free internet pornography what people really want and will be willing to pay for is new ideas.

See Also:
A Feminist Overview of Pornography
Feminist Quotes about Pornography
Feminism and Pornography: Sex and Censors
Feminism, Pornography and Censorship

Valentines Primer: Guide to Love and Sex

SEX - Just in time for Valentines, here's some great sites about love and sex.

#1. Flirting

#2. Kissing

#3. Feng Shui in the Bedroom

#4. Foreplay

#5. 101 Sex Positions

#6. Kama Sutra

#7. The Five Love Languages

Bigamists and Underaged Fathers at Work

SEX - In Britain a 13-year-old boy is a new father of a bouncing baby girl. His "girlfriend", now 15, was impregnated at the age of 14 when she missed one of her birth control pills.

Meanwhile in the United States, a 71-year-old conman has confessed to bigamy, having married 19-22 times.

Now obviously I have a lot to talk about here. On one hand we have a kid who when asked about how he would support the baby financially replied "What does financially mean?" and on the other hand we have an old charmer who has been marrying women and ripping them off financially.

Lets start with the underage father, known as Alfie, who was 12 at the time he first had sex. His father (now a grandfather) has a total of 9 children. Obviously not the greatest role model when it comes to fatherly restraint.

"I thought it would be good to have a baby. I didn't really think about how we would afford it," says young Alfie. "I don't really get pocket money. My dad sometimes gives me 10 pounds [about $15 US]."

The British girl, Chantelle, joins an alarming statistic. Approx. 7,000 girls under the age of 16 get pregnant and have children every year in Britain. Britain has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe, 27 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, but it pales in comparison to the United States where the teen pregnancy rate is 44 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19.

Evidently neither the boy or girl thought this seriously through and are taking their parents for granted that they will support their new grandchildren. The grandparents hardly have much choice in the matter either.

Alfie's father failed to warn his kids about the dangers of teen pregnancy, and Alfie himself should have been doubly cautious and worn a condom.

Meanwhile 71-year-old Irish-American conman and bigamist Oliver Killeen has been charged with a single count of bigamy, despite admitting to having at least 19 wives. Investigators believe there might be another 3, bringing his total to 22.

Killeen fathered nine children with his first wife, Mary (who died in 1974), and is believed to have had over 50 children with his 19-22 wives.

SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE.

Why would anyone want that many kids? Bragging rights? Its not like they're Conan the Barbarian, going from town to town and knocking up all the damsels in distress. Alfie can be excused for being a stupid kid that doesn't know any better, but Oliver Killeen just went on a marriage and fathering spree.

Was it greed? No. Did they just not realize what they were doing? Maybe.

I think the biggest culprits is stupidity (I will come back to this idea) and religion, in this case Catholicism as both Alfie and Oliver were born-and-raised Catholics... which means no condoms, no birth control, no abortions.

And apparently not many morals. How many lives has Oliver Killeen ruined with his bigamy? Lots. And Alfie? He's already ruined his life, Chantelle's life, and likely the life of his newborn daughter.

Chantelle is equally guilty for forgetting her birth control pills and failing to get an abortion. The grandparents must think these very young parents will be able to cope, but that is, honestly, a trailer-park mentality.

Seriously, if there's one law of the universe it is that stupid people breed constantly, and trailer parks have unusually high birth rates. They're not the brightest, they don't have many future prospects, so they get bored, screw around and the next thing you know they're on Jerry Springer bragging about how many kids they've fathered and their ex's fighting over them.

Evidently the sex education we're teaching in schools is missing an important point: All the damage that happens when people don't think ahead.

We know its statistically true that lower IQ people have more children, likely because they have fewer career prospects and don't think ahead, but our schools need to be teaching kids more about planning their futures so that they realize there's more to life than making babies.

HOW TO DARN A SOCK

FASHION - During the current recession many of you may decide its time to cut back and save some cash by buying less clothes.

One EASY way to save cash is to darn your socks. It takes approx. 5 to 7 minutes to darn a sock and it can easily be done while watching TV or a favourite DVD.

As a guy, I found it strangely relaxing and remarkably easy to darn a sock. Here's
some instructions on how to darn socks and a video demonstrating how easy it is.

Step 1.
Find thread or yarn that matches the sock in color and texture; you can use embroidery floss (a type of thread) to repair a crew sock, while wool yarn is appropriate for a wool sock. Choose a darning needle as well.

Step 2.
Turn the sock inside out and lace a baseball or golfball in the sock and position the hole over the ball. Your needle will glide smoothly over the ball's surface, making your stitching go faster.

Step 3.
Thread the darning needle with the yarn or thread and leave the end unknotted. The darning process should create a tight weave that makes knots unnecessary.

Step 4.
Start your work on either side of the hole. Take several small vertical running stitches in the intact fabric of the sock, about 1/2 inch to the left or right of the hole. Turn the sock upside down and make another row of stitches next to the first.

Step 5.
Increase the number of running stitches you make as you come closer to the hole. When you reach the point at which the hole begins, your stitching line should extend from 1/2 inch above the hole to 1/2 inch below it.

Step 6.
Continue making vertical running stitches. When your stitching reaches the hole, take your thread or yarn over the hole and into the fabric on the other side, forming what resembles a vertical bridge over the hole. Stitching should extend 1/2 inch beyond the hole at both the top and bottom edges.

Step 7.
Cut the thread end once you have covered the hole with vertical threads and extended the stitching 1/2 inch past it so that both sides of the hole look identical.

Step 8.
Thread your darning needle and begin your work 1/2 inch from either side of the hole at either the top or bottom. Take the threaded needle and weave it under and over the vertical threads that cover the hole (as well as the vertical threads that lie within 1/2 inch of the hole).

Step 9.
Turn the sock upside down once you reach the opposite end of the hole, and weave another yarn strand next to the first. Continue stitching back and forth until you've completely filled the hole. Trim excess thread. Turn sock right side out.

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