Shopping Sprees Linked to Periods

BBC online reports that Professor Karen Pine will be presenting findings from her shopping study at a British Psychological Society meeting in Brighton later this week. In a nutshell, Pine found that 2/3rds of the 153 women she interviewed who were in the luteal phase of their cycles (after ovulation, before menstruation begins) had bought something on impulse [recently? ever?], with more than half spending over £25. From this, Pine concludes that impulse shopping might be caused by “surges and fluctuations in hormones which affect the part of the brain linked to emotions and inhibitory control” that happen in the luteal phase.

So, now I know why my husband randomly came home with a computer scanner: he was pre-menstrual. Oh no wait. Only girls have shopping sprees.

accused rapist aquitted: drunkenness and consent

Peter Bacon, from Kent, was acquitted of rape this week. The 26-year-old chef was charged with rape after a sexual encounter with a 45-year-old lawyer who was heavily intoxicated and blacked out. She woke up with Bacon in her bed, not knowing what had happened. The most thorough report of his version of events (the only version offered, as she could not recall it) that I’ve been able to find has been in The Times, three days ago.

Mr Bacon had visited the woman’s home after a friend invited him. He said he had met the woman twice before and she had been drunk both times. That evening, the trio consumed around five bottles of wine before Mr Bacon and the woman found themselves alone.

Mr Bacon, who denied rape, said: “We were talking and her head was close to mine. She smiled and said, ‘You’re quite young, aren’t you?’. I thought she was giving me the come-on.

“Then, when we started kissing, she did not say no. There was never any indication of her saying, ‘What are you doing?’. She had plenty of time to say, ‘Oi!’.”

Kerry Malin, for the prosecution, told the court that the woman, who cannot be named, was so drunk that she could not remember Mr Bacon arriving. The next morning, she had shouted: “It’s because of b******s like you that the law has been changed,” referring to a 2007 Court of Appeal ruling that someone who is drunk may not be capable of giving consent.

(NB. ‘Oi!’ in british slang translates as something like ‘hey, what’s going on!?’)

Bacon apparently went directly from the woman’s home to the local police station to give a statement. The woman’s blood alcohol was tested that morning and found to be over twice the legal drink-drive limit.

Over at Talking Philosophy, there’s an interesting discussion underway regarding how to characterise events like this where both the (alleged) victim and the (alleged) attacker are intoxicated (as seems to have been the case here). Obviously you can see from the Times excerpt that–big surprise–much is being made of the fact that the woman was heavily intoxicated, and known to be often heavily intoxicated. ie., she was a binge drinker and brought it upon herself. The Daily Mail even reports that she described herself as a “social binge drinker”, as if this is relevant. Shockingly (not), no mention is made of Bacon’s usual drinking habits. But I must admit that I’m actually not clear on how to understand this. In the Talking Philosophy discussion, several people are asking questions on the order of “if she’s not responsible for saying ‘yes’ because she was drunk, why is he responsible for believing the ‘yes’ while drunk?”, and more to the point, “if her drunkenness invalidates her consent, then why does it not his as well? Why is he an attacker where she is a victim?” These don’t strike me as easily-answered questions. Nor does the question of what drunken (but apparently clear and unequivocal) consent amounts to. The woman’s evidence in her defence was, in part, that she is “fussy about the men I date. I’m quite a snob.” Ergo she could not nor would not have consented to intercourse with this man. In my home town, it would be called “beer goggles”: finding someone more attractive under the influence of alcohol than you would in the sober light of day. Is beer-goggle-induced consent consent? Does what she “wants” when drunk count as what she wants? Or does the fact that she has said ‘yes’ to someone who she would soberly not have done only show that she was unable to properly consent?

On a slightly related note, Barbara Ellen of the Observer implores us to drop the term ‘date rape’:

‘After all, what other serious crimes are trivialised in such a way? Anyone ever heard of “date murder”, “date fraud”, “date theft”?’

What do you think? (Thanks, Rob, for the link.)

On the state of the profession

This year does not look good.  Students are complaining that getting into graduate school is very difficult, while the  job market seems to be really limited this year.   People who might retire very soon and so free up jobs are probably being advised to wait.  In any case, lots of universities will have trouble hanging onto such jobs, one suspects. 

Are any of the APA committees collecting data, or preparing to do so?

We might remind ourselves that tenured jobs are not entirely safe.  Financial need can lead to restructurings and closing downs that can end a tenured job.  Has anyone experienced this?

Who are the most vulnerable?  I would bet that those who hold the adjunct-plus conditions, where one gets something like class rates plus a  retainer, may get withdrawn quite easily.  I hope that’s wrong, but since I experienced it once, I can say that it comes as an unpleasant exercise in you-versus-them.

If you feel like sharing a story of hardship in the present situation, please do so.  We need to know more about what  is going on.  If you have a survival strategy, please let us know!


Just when you were wondering, Neiman Marcus has told us.  This season’s new color is PINK!

"Runway to Reality"
"Runway to Reality"
  (The caption is theirs.)  And for the  perfect pink shoes, you might try these:
Christian Louboutin $1095.00
Christian Louboutin $1095.00
  Such a  relief to have all that  settled.  And such a feminine color.  So now we know what to wear to the APA!

Genes and IQ

Richard E Nisbett, an important cognitive psychologist, has published a book on heredity and environmental contributions to intelligence, Intelligence and How to Get ItThe NY Times has a review of it that gives us a  useful, though partial, update on the state of the debate.

Nisbett emphasizes the importance of a cognitively rich environment for children, and the very unfortunate fact that it tends to be associated with other sorts of privilege, such as social and economic class.  Environment does seem to make a different to one’s IQ score, which in turn is also closely correlated with a different in future economic status.  This is the clear perpetuation of privilege.

The review also relays a vivid example  of the fact that even if differences among individuals were wholly hereditary, it does not follow that differences among groups must be:

 The classic example is corn seed planted on two plots of land, one with rich soil and the other with poor soil. Within each plot, differences in the height of the corn plants are completely genetic. Yet the average difference between the two plots is entirely environmental.

The Sunday cat prepares for the pacific apa

Yikes!  It’s that time of the year again.  The  Pacific  American Philosophical Association Conference is starting on April  8th.  And despite what has been rumored, there are some distinguished feminist philosophers speaking.  For example, Sally Haslanger and Jennifer Saul are together in a session on Saturday afternoon, while Cynthia Freeland is presenting on  Thursday afternoon.  And there are certainly other  feminists speaking.  Please read the program and come and join in.

Last year the Sunday Cat present a metaphor for the conference here.  This year we have another feline presentation, though it is just a bit ambiguous.  That is, it isn’t clear whether conference attendees should regard it as a warning or as advice about what to do.   Perhaps you can decide.

medical advice on the web

Do you look for medical advice on the web?  If you have a new and perhaps scary symptom, do you use google to check it out?  Or if you are prescribed something, do you look it up on the web?  If a friend describes a problem, are you inclined to see what the various sources on the web say?

Have you found any reliable sites for general medical advice?

My own use of the web with medical opinions is pretty irregular.  If I’m looking for something about which I know little or nothing, I look for consensus and then treat that as input to be checked out by another means.  There is a lot of consensus  about a number of things.

Sometimes I learn something important or see indications of something interesting.  I think, but am not sure, that some regulatory agency in the States has classified a lot of medicine in terms of its known effects during pregnancy.

There’s a huge consensus on the web about feline ringworm, a fungal

tarry, before the steroid-fed ringworn created 10 sores on his head
tarry, before the steroid-fed ringworn created 10 sores on his head

infection.  Almost all of it recommends thoroughly decontaminating your home.  That’s a lot of fun, and since I have a cat with the infection, I’ve been going around spraying lysol, vacuuming and so on.  But I just learned that the fungus is hyper abundant in my area, so that was pretty much pointless.  So  now we’re back to our mere four weeks of playing “find the cat’ every morning to give him medicine he actually likes to take.

I also looked up medicine for colds during pregnancy, after elp and Jender’s poignant remarks.  There’s a consensus on that, and it seems to say there are some safe-ish medicines.  Not, though, necessary sufficient reasons for taking them.

So please, if you feel like it, let us know what you think about using the web for medical advice and/or whether you do it.


If you’re wondering what’s going on, let me say that Tarry, short for Tarragon, is a rescue cat; we  got  him to help out with Basil, another rescue cat, who was going through an hysterical kittenhood.  Tarry came  with a bag of kitten presents from the rescue people and Basil broke into it and played with all the toys while Tarry hid under various beds.  Basil has recently become a placid, philosophical pudding cat:

"Is there an external world?  Why are some actions good and other bad?"
"Is there an external world? Why are some actions good and other bad?"

I may have gotten off topic, but please let us know what you think!

Getting Married?

If you are, and if you’re doing so in a place that doesn’t allow same-sex marriage, you may be feeling some moral/political qualms. I was listening to Dan Savage’s show and he had some suggestions for what straight people can do to help the cause when they get married: (1) You might get someone to say something about marriage equality as part of the service. (2) You might get something put into the written programme. (3) On the gift registry, you could suggest donations to a marriage equality campaign. Great ideas, I thought, and worth passing on.

No need to look young?

Let the celebrations begin.

“It’s official! Age is irrelevant… when it comes to women and beauty that is. ” No more anti-wrinkle creams, no more botox, no more airbrushing, no need to hide body parts that don’t look 15. Bring on the happy self-acceptance! Women no longer need to look young.

All we need to do– at any age– is look like this:


No problem then.

What I love about it is the idea that we’ve got past the ageism because we can now think that middle-aged women with perfect bodies and wrinkle-free faces are attractive. This is really perfectly fucked up because what it does is place *more* pressure on women while pretending to place less. Because now we all know that middle-aged women *can* look like teenagers, and it’s a pretty short step from there to the thought that they should. (An area where ‘can’ implies ‘ought’ perhaps?)

Images of Prostitution

I just came across this article. Have only skimmed it so don’t know about it’s printed content, but it has some striking photographs of prostitutes in it – police photos of the same woman, but picked up at different times, so we get to see her progressing from a young woman to someone older. Pretty heartwrenching.