Three blogs

I get mail asking why I so frequently comment on Andrew Sullivan’s blogs and articles. (I also occasionally get mail telling me I shouldn’t care what he thinks. Sullivan has earned his share of enemies in the gay community.) No mystery, basically he’s my favorite mainstream blogger and I think his writing is a great touchstone. He’s certainly one of the few mainstream bloggers taking an approach that is arguably integral (though still miles away from AQAL or STEAM-based). I am frequently disappointed by some of his flatland politics, but I learn a helluva lot even when I disagree. What more could anyone want of any writer?

Tonight, Sullivan linked to another site called Independent Gay Forum, and praised it. So have I (see “Why I Read Independent Gay Forum,”) and I also praise this site and recommend its articles. The site’s writers have earned Sullivan’s praise (Dale Carpenter’s columns are usually the most thought provocative, in my opinion), but I simply cannot let Sullivan’s characterization of the site as “non-left” go unchallenged. Of course, Sullivan is merely repeating the Indegayforum party line, that theirs is the “alternative” to the gay left. What’s truly accurate is that theirs is a genuine alternative to the left by presenting conservative, libertarian, and classical liberal opinions only. And that’s all they offer. Of course, to their readers like Sullivan, that’s all there is that’s worth mentioning on the “non-left.” Puke.

From the standpoint of an integral philosophy, Independent Gay Forum is primarily a sounding board for mostly rationalist-level writing by some of the gay community’s best writers. There is occasionally an integral bent to a piece, and when I find it, it always makes me happy to see. And their opponents on the mainstream left are mostly rationalists. And with their opponents on the far left in gay academia, you have a heavy pluralist streak. Not exactly a huge difference between the left and the so-called “non-left,” from where I’m standing.

P.S.: In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I have in the past (it’s been a few years) submitted a few of my previously published columns to Independent Gay Forum for publication, and they were all rejected without explanation. For example, I submitted one of my best columns, a piece about gay and straight men healing from sexual abuse, and I drew the connections to healing homophobia on the terrain of individual consciousness. Rejected. Too spiritual, I guess. (They include stories by religionists, but only the rationalist-level stuff like explanations for why Roman Catholic natural law philosophy isn’t rational enough.) The story I make up is that their editors have no use for spirituality and are utterly clueless about the connections between inner growth, consciousness, and cultural/political change.

Subsequently, I founded Gay Spirituality & Culture where writers and readers less clueless about spirituality can congregate and see what magic might develop… It’s a group blog that allows for voices and perspectives excluded by the rationalist-level blogs like The Daily Dish and Indegayforum. The motto begins with this phrase: “We are a group of independent writers with interests in inner transformation, personal growth, spirituality, religion, and culture …” It’s still a baby, and I make no claims that it’s all that, but feel free to check it out. The GS&C blog will turn two years old in just over a week. Ghandi once said that you have to “be the change” you want to see in the world. Not everybody gets that, but some blogs are drawing the connections.

100 words or less

Homophobic, “Christian” preacher says stupid, homophobic things, advocates stupid, anti-gay boycott, is caught in lies, and then advocates even more stupid, laughable, anti-gay measures called a “buy-and-dump stock scheme.” Just the same run of the mill story that’s overly familiar by now.

Enough said, almost. There’s something about impotence breeding idiocy. And then there’s this: he’s not worth it. My own personal boycott is to refuse to write more than 100 words about any homophobe this moronic. The disgust, righteous anger, and gleefulness… I try to save my energy for more worthy targets. Sadly, they’re out there.

Promiscuity, testicle size, and brain size in males linked

Studies of bats and other mammals have found that the average brain size is 36 percent bigger among monogamous males than promiscuous males, researchers say. In bat species with promiscuous females, the male’s body has been shown to use more of its energy to enhance the testes, costing the males the energy needed to further develop their brains. Promiscuity is also associated with big testicles among chimpanzees, whereas dominant gorillas with exclusive access to a harm of females are known to have small testicles.

The implication is that males of some species make a trade-off between brain power and sex appeal. In promiscuous species where there is heightened competition for male sexual success, males are more likely to choose balls over brains compared to non-promiscuous species.

If the results of this research are applicable to the human species, one might dare to speculate, then this could eventually support the stereotypes that associate physical beauty and sexual prowess with low intelligence. Jokes and prejudice surrounding “muscle meatheads” and “blonde bimbos” could get scientific reinforcement. Potentially, stereotypes about breast, penis or ball size could also be put at play. If, say, large penises are supposedly linked to lower intelligence and smaller penises to higher intelligence, then the racial and ethnic aspects of such linkages would become politically and culturally explosive.

Reason not involved in partisan decision-making, study says

Researchers hooked up the brains of staunch Democrats and Republicans to brain-scanning devices and asked the partisans to examine contradictions made by political candidates. Here’s what they found, according to a report on MSNBC:

We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

“None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged,” Westen said. “Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones.”

The cycle formerly known as partisan “reasoning”: ignore the contradiction, get disgusted, rationalize away the feeling of disgust, and then bask in the drug-like high one gets from having one’s deepest prejudices confirmed. This explains, in part, why I find most political weblogs on both the left and right so brain-dead that I can’t stand to read them. It’s just a bunch of blah blah blah blah blah blah. I tend to skim them for various impressions of “what’s passing as political ‘reasoning’ these days…”

Too busy to blog

But check out these fluffy links: on racism and white privilege from TimBomb… on integral relationships from Bill… on defining religiosity from landonville… on beadaholism by Jean… Greg’s post on recovery and more… and then there’s Hugo’s “Another long one on Christianity, feminism, ezers, and gender roles” post that I haven’t had the energy to reply to yet. Will definitely write something up by 2007.

Update: Can’t wait to write about Naomi Wolf’s encounter with Jesus.