Word of the Day: Ephebophilia

I watched the movie Smart People recently, which features Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Page. After watching the film, I went to IMDB to get some additional information about it.

Like every other movie at IMDB, Smart People has a message board, and several of the most popular threads from that board are displayed at the bottom of the movie’s entry page. I noticed the following thread posted therein:

“Pedophilia and Ellen Page’s characters”

The person who started the thread had some concerns about some of the characters in Ellen Page’s movies – specifically, Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) from Juno and Chuck Wetherhold (Thomas Haden Church) from Smart People. In Juno, Mark and Juno have a flirtatious relationship that some might consider inappropriate; in Smart People, Page’s overachieving character develops a crush on her slacker adopted uncle, and actually ends up kissing him at one point.

While we could certainly argue over whether it’s appropriate for thirtysomething males to flirt with or kiss a 16 or 17 year-old girl, one thing is clear: that ain’t pedophilia.

Pedophilia is generally defined as “a psychological disorder in which an adult experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children”. Ellen Page is 21 years-old in real life; in Juno she played a pregnant 16 year-old, while in Smart People she played a 17 year-old. Both of these characters are obviously past puberty, so the word the poster might actually have been looking for is ephebophilia, which is “the sexual attraction to adolescents (typically teenagers)”.

What makes ephebophilia interesting is that it just might be hardwired into the male brain.

Continue reading “Word of the Day: Ephebophilia”

Mad Men: “For Those Who Think Young”

Season 2 of Mad Men kicked off last night, and I finally figured out why I love this show so much: when I watch it, I am completely and totally sucked in to this world. When Mad Men is on, I’m not watching a bunch of actors reading lines – I’m watching a magical time machine that’s taken me back to the early 1960s. Mad Men isn’t a simple television show – it’s a portal to an earlier time.

Season 2 begins on February 14th, 1962 – 14 months ahead of where season 1 ended (yet another reason to love this show: it’s never explicitly stated that it’s 14 months later – the writers assume that you’ll be intelligent enough to figure it out as the show goes on). Some things are the same. Some have changed. Perhaps the most shocking change is in Peggy – who went from shy secretary to junior copy writer in season 1. Peggy now a serious Sterling Cooper employee. She feels like the only professional woman in the office, and needs to lord it over the secretaries so that they’ll remember that she’s not “one of them”. Her conversation with Don’s new secretary is priceless:

"Lois... do you know where Mr. Draper is?"
"Lois... do you know where Mr. Draper is?"

And then there are the Drapers. Don and Betty appear to be together again – not a peep from Don’s many mistresses – and superficially appear to be happy together. I personally think that Don is just happy to have a family and beautiful wife (love the intro in the hotel!), so he doesn’t want to mess it up. He feels like he dodged a bullet. He’s also worried about his health. I think Don feels like the world is closing in on him. His life has been one lie after another, and now his health is on the line. I think Don’s more worried about karma being right around the corner than the police. And something’s not right with Don and Betty’s sexual relationship. In this episode, they check into a hotel for a little “Valentine’s Day Lovin'”, but Don is unable to “close the deal” so to speak. Other web sites have speculated that Don “couldn’t perform” because of a health issue; I thought everything with Don and Betty was just awkward. You be the judge…

Don is also erratic at the office. He’s running the office from afar: he doesn’t return calls, he misses all kinds of office talk, and he misses meetings:

Waiting on Don...
Waiting on Don...

There are also changes on the way in the advertising world. A client has begged Roger Sterling into hiring a team of “young guns” to do their ad. Indeed, word on the street in the advertising world is that clients want younger and younger people working on their ads. Youth is “in” in a big way in advertising. What will this mean for Sterling Cooper’s staff?

There’s still a lot to be said for manners, though. Another reason I get sucked into Mad Men is that it portrays an era that, although inherently sexist, bigoted, and racist, was far better behaved than the people of today. There’s a great scene where Don walks in an elevator with these two guys that are explicitly describing a sexual exploit. At the second floor, an older lady gets on the elevator. The two guys continue with their story in front of the older lady… until Don the guy telling the story to take off his hat (hidden message: shut the hell up):

"Take off your hat."
"Take off your hat."

There is, of course, a lot more going on with the show. I won’t take up your time going through all those things… but I do want to end on “The Book”. Early in this episode, Don is in a bar eating some lunch (when he should have been at the meeting pictured above). A guy at the bar is reading a book of poems called Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara (Amazon). Don ends up with his own copy, which he mails to someone. Who? We don’t know:

Who is Don thinking of?
Who is Don thinking of?

Lastly… TV Squad (in this recap) said that “January Jones is one of the most beautiful women on the planet”. I can’t say that I could argue with them. Enjoy one last screen cap:

Ms. Betty Draper
Ms. Betty Draper

For Evelyn

For my dear friend Evelyn Kouloumberis:

I see your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change.
Though all the feelings that came through that door
Just didn’t seem to be too real.

The yard is nothing but a fence, the sun just hurts my eyes.
Somewhere it must be time for penitence.
gardening at night is never where.

gardening at night.
gardening at night.
gardening at night.

The neighbors go to bed at ten.
Call the prayer line for a change.
The charge is changing every month.
They said it couldn’t be arranged.

The yard is nothing but a fence, the sun just hurts my eyes.
Somewhere it must be time for penitence.
gardening at night is never where.

See your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change,
Though all the feelings that broke through that door
Just didn’t seem to be too real.

gardening at night
gardening at night
gardening at night

Your sister said that she’s too young;
She should know she’s been there twice.
The call was 2 and 51.
They said it shouldn’t be arranged.

The yard is nothing but a fence, the sun just hurts my eyes.
Somewhere it must be time for penitence.
gardening at night is never where.

We ankled up the garbage sound, but you were busy in the rows.
We fell up, not to see the sun, gardening at night just didn’t grow.

gardening at night
gardening at night
gardening at night

Teenage Murderers

Enjoy a new feature here at jimcofer.com: the Science Blog! When researching posts for the History Blog, I often come across things that interest me, but aren’t really “history”, so to speak. When I heard about the following story, I knew I just had to post it, but doing so would require a new category… and thus, the Science Blog was born!

It sounds like an urban legend about gang initiations: teenage males come together to form a pack, pick out a random victim, form a circle around him or her, then beat the victim to death… just for thrills. Sadly, however, it’s not an urban legend. It’s very real. But what might surprise you is who is doing this. It’s not inner-city gang members looking for “street cred”. It’s not packs of skinheads looking for an immigrant to beat up on. It’s not even drunken hicks looking for a gay guy to bash on. No. The perpetrators in this case are… bottlenose dolphins.

Modern American culture holds dolphins in high regard. And why not? They’re beautiful creatures. They’re highly intelligent. And it seems that, in many cases, dolphins like us. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of a pack of dolphins carrying a drowning man to the shore, or a pack of dolphins saving a diver from a shark attack. Since at least 1964 (when the TV series Flipper debuted), most Americans have thought of dolphins as friendly little sea creatures almost as smart as ourselves.

In the summer of 1997, however, marine biologists in Virginia and Scotland began finding the bodies of young bottlenose dolphins washed up on the beach. The bodies were in horrific shape, and the biologists initially blamed the deaths on the U.S. Navy (in the Virginia case) and an offshore oil rig (in the Scottish case).

The biologists quickly changed their tune after the young dolphins were autopsied. Their internal organs had been pulverized while the tissue surrounding the organs was left intact. What’s more, the internal organs appeared to be injured in order of their importance to the young dolphin – their hearts were almost completely destroyed, while their stomachs (while still perhaps fatally injured) where in much better shape, relatively speaking. These factors immediately ruled out any type of “shock blast” from the Navy or the oil rig, as any such blast from those sources would have injured the dolphins’ organs equally. The biologists would remain stumped until the smoking gun finally appeared: some of the researchers – who were now working together on both sides of the Atlantic – were able to definitively show that the victims had teeth marks from their fellow dolphins.

All this was confirmed as home video of “dolphin murders” started to make its way into the hands of the researchers. Several vacationers, on day trips to view dolphins or whales, began recording amazing footage of packs of dolphins isolating a baby, beating it to death, then playing with the corpse (much as a cat might play with a dead mouse).

The big question here is, of course, why the dolphins kill some of their young. The dolphins never eat their victims, nor is food lacking in the areas where the murders occur, so hunger cannot be the cause. Most of the victims appear to have been in good health before the beatings, so it does not appear to be a “kill the weaker so that the rest may survive” situation. Most of the victims are members of the murderers’ “family”, so it does not appear to be an issue of territory (especially since most animals, dolphins included, will simply chase any unwanted animals out of their territory instead of killing them). Some have speculated that it’s somehow about mating, since once a calf dies, a female dolphin is ready to mate again; this seems quite illogical (“Let’s kill your baby so we can make a baby!”) and scientists aren’t completely sure that it’s only males that take part in the murders.

The most popular (and obvious) hypothesis is that the young male dolphins are using the young calves – which are usually around the same size and age, by the way – as a type of “target practice”. After all, those young males may one day be called upon to defend the pod against an attacker. But that doesn’t explain the sheer brutality of the attacks, nor does it explain why the dolphins play with the corpses of the victims, often tossing it back and forth to each other like a soccer ball. However, this hypothesis might explain one of the more horrific aspects of the killings: the attackers use their ultrasonic capabilities to hone in on the victim’s vital organs!

Perhaps the greatest puzzle of all is why it only happens off the coast of Virginia and Scotland. Bottlenose dolphins are everywhere in the Atlantic, yet this bizarre behavior has only been spotted in those two places.

There probably is some reason why some dolphins kill their young. But until then, there are now two species on this planet that kill just for fun: man… and dolphins!

Geek Humor: “The Website Is Down”

OK, OK… I’m probably the last geek on the ‘Net to find this little video… but my God, folks… for someone in the IT world, this video is sidesplittingly funny! It’s prefectly done – from the obsessive window-switching of the IT guy, to his quick access to the Exchange server, right down to his annoyed grunts.

NSFW WARNING: this video has some foul language and sexually-explicit icons… so try to watch this one from home:

SONGS I LOVE: “Sirens of the Sea”

I know, I know: dinosaurs roamed the earth the last time trance music was cool! Well, maybe it’s not quite that out of date, but trance has been passe for several years now, no?

If that’s true, then it’s a crying shame, because the new Above and Beyond remix of OceanLab’s “Sirens of the Sea” is amazing! Beautiful! Stunning! Breathtaking! Aethereal! Transcendent! … and a bunch of other breathless words I can’t think of at the moment.

OceanLab’s debut album (of the same name) will be released on July 21, 2008. The album includes the title track, which is also coming out as a 12″ single. The “Above and Beyond Original Mix” is the version of the song to get; unfortunately, my copy has a DJ talking over it, so here’s the “Above and Beyond Radio Edit”, a slightly shorter version of the “Original Mix”:


I’ve listened to this song over and over and over again since I first heard it. It’s one of the best dance tracks I’ve heard in ages!

Ollie Update

First of all, can I just say how completely gobsmacked I am by how many people emailed or commented on MySpace to Lisa or myself, sending “get well” wishes for lil’ Ollie! Seriously! It almost makes me get a lump in my throat… people really do care about this poor lil’ stray kitty!

I took the following picture Friday evening:

Looking better!
Looking better!

As you can see, it’s healing nicely. Most importantly, Ollie is back to being his “spunky monkey” self. His poor mother is trying so badly to wean him, but he just keeps “chasing that titty”… all the time! And he’ll jump over Mom, run downstairs to cut her off… anything to nurse just a couple of times more. Here’s what Lisa saw when she came home today:

Ollie has a snack.

I was already out there taking pics for the “Love Garden 2008” article (coming soon – Ed.), and I just happened to catch Cindy looking at Lisa about to walk through the door!

So again… THANK YOU for all your concern about the lil’ guy. He’s healing quite nicely!

Set those DVRs!

Folks, I’ve said it a dozen times on this site: Mad Men is the best show on TV right now. Full stop. Period dot.

Season 2 starts on July 27 at 10 p.m. ET on AMC. But the network is having a season 1 marathon this Sunday! Additionally, many cable providers (Time Warner for one) are offering season 1 in full OnDemand (in SD and HD in many markets).  If you haven’t seen this show yet, you should really set your TiVo or check the OD channels, because really… as I’ve said it a dozen and one times already: it’s an awesome show.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Mad Men has received highly positive critical response since its premiere…. A New York Times reviewer called the series groundbreaking for “luxuriating in the not-so-distant past.” The San Francisco Chronicle called Mad Men “stylized, visually arresting […] an adult drama of introspection and the inconvenience of modernity in a man’s world”. A Chicago Sun-Times reviewer described the series as an “unsentimental portrayal of complicated ‘whole people’ who act with the more decent 1960 manners America has lost, while also playing grab-ass and crassly defaming subordinates.” The reaction at Entertainment Weekly was similar, noting how in the period in which Mad Men takes place, “play is part of work, sexual banter isn’t yet harassment, and America is free of self-doubt, guilt, and countercultural confusion.” The Los Angeles Times said that the show had found “a strange and lovely space between nostalgia and political correctness”. The show also received critical praise for its historical accuracy – mainly its depictions of gender and racial bias, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the high prevalence of smoking and drinking. Mad Men has received a score of 77 (generally favorable reviews) on the media review website Metacritic.

The article also says:

The series made Emmy history in 2008 as the first basic-cable series to be nominated for best drama. Jon Hamm was also nominated as best actor in a drama for his performance as Don Draper.

The series won the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama Series and Jon Hamm won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor In A Drama for his performance as Don Draper.

Additionally, the series won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series. American Film Institute picked it as one of the ten best TV series of 2007.

The cast of Mad Men were nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, and Jon Hamm was nominated for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.

The episode “Shoot” won the Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design for a Single Camera Television Series.

The Series was awarded a 2007 Peabody Award.

It’s good. Believe me, folks! Set those DVRs, people!

What’s For Dinner, Jim?

The missus and I were at the Bi-Lo recently, where I happened to spot two packs of barbecue-rub chicken leg quarters for 98¢ each. It was a bargain! Last night, I decided to throw one of them on the grill:

Barbequed Chicken!
Barbecued Chicken!

I slathered the meat in Smack Yo’ Mama brand’s “Death Wish” barbecue sauce, which absolutely brought the heat!

And I only just yesterday learned how to grill leg quarters: you only light one of your grill’s burners, and set that burner to the generous side of “medium”. Brush a little oil on the grill and grill the chicken around 3 minutes per side over the direct heat. Have a spray bottle handy – chicken is fatty, and it could turn into a fiery, greasy mess! Anyway, after the bird has gotten the three minutes per side, brush the other (unlit) side of the grill with a little oil and move the bird there. Brush on some sauce, then drop the lid and let it cook for around 45 minutes, flipping and basting occasionally.


The Most Disgusting Thing Ever

This is Ollie:

(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)

Ollie is a stray kitten that hangs out on our deck.

Last Wednesday morning, Ollie stumbled up the stairs of the deck. He could barely walk. His neck was really swollen. He was lethargic. He didn’t want to eat or drink. Lisa brought him inside, thinking that he was going to die. Poor Lisa couldn’t bear for him to die alone – and he was in really bad shape. But Lisa held the little guy all day long, wrapped in a towel, stroking his head and baby-talking to him. Slowly but surely, he seemed to get better. Later that evening, Ollie got up and ate something, and showed other signs of life.

Over the next couple of days, Ollie seemed to get better and better. The swelling in his neck went down, but Lisa found what looked like a puncture wound, as if a fang or really sharp pencil had been stuck into poor Ollie’s neck. We started cleaning the wound with peroxide, and for the next couple of days it started to look better. But by Sunday, things started going downhill. The wound hadn’t even started to heal, and was slowly starting to look (and smell) much worse. We debated over taking him to an emergency vet on Sunday, then decided to take him to the regular vet on Monday. Well, that fell through as one of the Jeeps was in the shop Monday morning. But in the meantime, Lisa and I had been cleaning Ollie’s wounds more frequently with the peroxide. In fact, it was during one of those cleanings that I noticed it.

I had just finished cleaning the wound when I noticed that part of the wound was moving. A small part of it even stuck itself out of the wound as some bizarre form of greeting. It was then that my heart sank: this kitty had some kind of botfly infestation.

Botflies dig into the skin of mammals and grow from egg to larvae… inside the body of a human or animal. They dig a perfectly round hole out of the body, and, when nearly full-grown, will even stick their heads out of the host’s body to get air and look around. It’s truly disgusting. I can’t stress that enough, people. It’s vile. If you want to lose your breakfast, click here to go to YouTube’s search results for “botfly” (I’m warning you – it’s foul). By the way, the proper term for the types of botflies that infect cows, horses, dogs and cats in the US is warble. So if you ever have to call a vet about one, you know what to ask about now…

Anyway, I read up on botflies and watched some of those hideous videos at YouTube. I thought I could do it. It didn’t seem difficult, really: squeeze it like the giant zit it is, and wait for the fly to stick his head out. Then grab as far down on the larva as you can with tweezers, and pull firmly, but gently. The important thing is to not let the larva break or come out incomplete; this can cause a nasty infection or allergic reaction.

So I stood outside the powder room where we were keeping the kitty. I took a long, deep breath – the kind of deep breath you take just before you walk into a body piercing shop or tattoo parlor – and I walked in and did it:

The hideous maggot!
The hideous maggot!

It was easier than it looked in the videos – I just waited until he came out, then grabbed the thing right out. But God – was it disgusting! It was like something out of Alien right in my own bathroom! By the way, in the photo above, that plastic thing is the cap to an old-school 35mm film canister I filled with alcohol (to save the maggot, ‘cos you know I was gonna take pictures!)

So this is poor Ollie now:

Poor Ollie!
Poor Ollie!

He’s getting better, though. It’s starting to heal, and I’m sure the little guy will be back to 100% in a few days. But man, I’ve just gotta tell you: that was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever had to do!