Everyone Likes Porn—Yes, EVERYONE

Unlike Justice Stewart, many people don’t know porn ‘when they see it.’ Yet we all see it all the time—and happily.

Not you? Momentarily lift your mind out of the gutter. What about food porn or decorating porn? Kitten porn or fashion porn? All around us is porn porn porn porn porn – including sex porn. These various porns share something basic: fans know what’s coming, and they find it satisfying. Continue reading

I Got Your Hippie Ape, Right Here

Spotting my bonobo-themed T-shirt, a woman recently approached to say that they were her favorite primates.

“Not humans?” I asked, but I knew better. Thanks to Frans de Waal and other primatological popularizers, bonoboism has become widespread. I’m part of the problem, having written a novel about it as a metaphor for anthropology. But people looking for a “hippie chimp” are lionizing the wrong species. Continue reading

Best novel for your Mazatlán vacation (maybe)

Well, at least it’s a contender: About half of my novel, Bonobo!, takes place in a fictionalized version of Mazatlán. While the book turned into something broader, I began it as a way to share my knowledge about Mazatlán, where I performed ethnographic research on everyday life over a span of several years in the 1990s.

Or, if you find a plot unnecessary and prefer to cut to the chase (although actually there’s no chase), try my nonfiction work: Moral Compromises in Mazatlán.

Or read both! They’re quite affordable. At least something about your Spring Break in Mexico could be redeeming.

Indivisible guide: An appreciation

My post-election analysis was that, galling as it is, progressives should emulate the Tea Partiers’ tactics, because they have been so successful. Others have said the same thing. Now a group of “former congressional staffers” has actually written a free guide to show us how – at least in dealing with members of Congress.

As the author of a work-in-progress titled, How to Change the World: A Step-by-Step Guide, I really appreciate several aspects of Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda: Continue reading

Bad Sex in Fiction Award: How To Avoid Winning

It’s easy to find awkward depictions of sex in literary fiction. The excerpts from this year’s nominees for the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award represent a good starting point, as do previous years’ winners. But the bad sex-writing hardly ends there. Serious Novelists, being tellers of hard truths, can depict all sorts of horrors without flinching – and then get flustered at describing sex. All the ease leaves their writing, and out come the metaphors. And the euphemisms. And the metaphors serving as euphemisms. Continue reading

Do chimp fathers protect their offspring?

To some evolutionary researchers, parental love is a mechanism to foster the transfer of genes through successive generations. Feeling emotionally attached to our children, most humans feed and protect our offspring and prepare them to thrive as adults, including as breeders. But when did this start for fathers – did our common ancestor with chimps and bonobos do the same? Recent research among chimpanzees suggests that the answer is yes. Continue reading

Seeing snakes made easy

snakysnakersonHere‘s interesting research on the propensity of humans and other primates to spot snakes, even sneaky ones. Apparently, there’s a Snake Detection Theory (SDT) that says that our vision has evolved to discern camouflaged but dangerous animals, particularly snakes. To test the SDT, researchers in Japan processed photos of various animals so that they were progressively more blurred; in this way, they could compare how much clarity was needed before research subjects could identify the animal. The other animals were supposedly nonthreatening ones, such as cats and birds. (Not everyone agrees!) They found that people saw snakes in photos that were blurrier than the ones in which they first recognized other animals.

Assuming that the images were truly equivalent, this result bolsters the SDT. And this suggests that our ancestors lived with individuals who didn’t have this snake-seeing facility and thus died of snakebites before reproducing – that is, as children.