Thursday, March 1, 2007

Study: Sex Makes People Feel Sexier

Sexual activity for men and women, straight or gay, raises testosterone levels, which, at least in women, fuels the desire for intercourse, increases the likelihood of experiencing an orgasm and heightens the individual’s belief in her own sexiness, recent studies have found.

The findings are among the first to suggest that men and women can alter their own hormone levels based on how often they cuddle or copulate, both of which can lead to testosterone rises.

Sexual activity for men and women, straight or gay, raises testosterone levels, which, at least in women, fuels the desire for intercourse, increases the likelihood of experiencing an orgasm and heightens the individual’s belief in her own sexiness, recent studies have found.

The findings are among the first to suggest that men and women can alter their own hormone levels based on how often they cuddle or copulate, both of which can lead to testosterone rises.

The researchers determined partnered men and women had the lowest overall testosterone levels, while polyamorous men and women both had higher amounts of testosterone than single or monogamously partnered individuals.

The team of scientists theorizes the hormone may be involved in "bond maintenance" and in preparing the individual for competition.

9 Year Old Girl Gives Birth To Baby

A nine-year-old Singaporean student, who did not realise she was pregnant, gave birth to a boy after it became too late for her to abort the baby.

Her horrified mother found out that her daughter was six-month pregnant when she took her to a doctor for what she thought was a urine infection.

By that time, it was too late for the girl to go for abortion.

The shocking case was made public at a seminar on youth relationships organised by Tamil cultural group Narpani Peravi and Republic Polytechnic last Saturday and was reported in Tamil Murasu on Sunday.

The primary three student, who comes from a well-to-do family and lives in a private landed property, was made pregnant by her boyfriend from the same school back in 2004. She gave her baby boy up for adoption soon after giving birth. The child would be about three years old now.

The girl was sent by her parents to a school in a nearby country, where she is currently in Primary Six. The boy was sent to a Reformative Training Centre soon after.

According to The New Paper, the girl met her boyfriend in school and they had sex frequently in her home. All these time, her parents never suspected anything as they were out and working most of the time.

And when she started gaining weight and had morning sickness, she didn't suspect that she was pregnant. Neither did her teachers and friends, as the girl always tucked blouse out so no one in school could tell if she was pregnant..

An early developer, she was about 1.3 metres tall and quite big-size for a girl her age. She reached puberty early and started menstruating when she was eight.

A gynaecologist and an urologist told The New Paper that it is very unusual for a nine-year-old to give birth.

Gynaecologist Ann Tan, who has 15 years experience, said she has never heard or seen any girl below 14 getting pregnant.

"This is very frightening," said Dr Tan, when told of the case.

She said that girls reach puberty around 11 on average.

Consultant urologist Damian Png, who has more than 10 years of experience, said boys usually reach puberty between 11 and 13.

Once a boy reaches puberty, he will be able to produce sperm, and in so doing will be capable of impregnating a girl. He, however, notes that the average age of puberty has gone down.

The youngest mother ever on record is Lina Medina from Peru. She was only five when she gave birth to a boy in May 1939. It was reported that she had her first period when she was only eight months old.

Her son, named Gerardo, died from a bone marrow disease when he was 40 in 1979.

Why do pilots say "roger" on the radio?

Pilots and other military types say “roger” to acknowledge receipt of a message or instructions. “Roger” at one time was the phonetic designation for the letter R, which in turn stood for “received.” Why not just say "received"? From a safety perspective, it makes sense to use standardized language, particularly when dealing with international operations. An American pilot may not understand German, but they both understand aviation terminology. The International Civil Aviation Organization oversees this standardization and disseminates it accordingly.

The use of “roger” isn't all that old. In the military's phonetic alphabet, "roger" didn't become the designation for R until 1927. (Previously the designation had been "rush.") The first citation given by the Oxford English Dictionary for “roger” in the sense of "received" dates from 1941, coinciding with U.S. entry into WWII. The term made the big time in 1943, when the Army Signal Corps incorporated it into one of its procedural manuals.

In 1957 "roger" was replaced by "romeo," the current designation, but by then "roger" = "received" was so entrenched that the brass knew better than to try and change it.

As for the use of “roger, roger” in Phantom Menace, the consensus seems to be that it's a sly (OK, not that sly) reference to Airplane (1980). The co-pilot in the latter movie, played by Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was named Roger Murdock. This was the pretext for such lines as:

Captain Oveur (Peter Graves): Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?

Variations on this theme include Oveur/over and clearance/Clarence. Trust me, it's pretty funny in the movie.

As for Roger’s last name, “wilco” dates from the same time, and is simply an abbreviation of “will comply.” So the pilot who invokes our friend Roger Wilco is saying “I understand you, and will follow your instructions,” only cooler and shorter.


Department of the Navy, “Phonetic Alphabet and Signal Flags” (2001), accessed from on November 7, 2006

Oxford English Dictionary, “Roger” (1989), accessed from on November 7, 2006

US commanders admit: we face a Vietnam-style collapse

An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.

The officers - combat veterans who are experts in counter-insurgency - are charged with implementing the "new way forward" strategy announced by George Bush on January 10. The plan includes a controversial "surge" of 21,500 additional American troops to establish security in the Iraqi capital and Anbar province.

But the team, known as the "Baghdad brains trust" and ensconced in the heavily fortified Green Zone, is struggling to overcome a range of entrenched problems in what has become a race against time, according to a former senior administration official familiar with their deliberations.

"They know they are operating under a clock. They know they are going to hear a lot more talk in Washington about 'Plan B' by the autumn - meaning withdrawal. They know the next six-month period is their opportunity. And they say it's getting harder every day," he said.

By improving security, the plan's short-term aim is to create time and space for the Iraqi government to bring rival Shia, Sunni and Kurd factions together in a process of national reconciliation, American officials say. If that works within the stipulated timeframe, longer term schemes for rebuilding Iraq under the so-called "go long" strategy will be set in motion.

But the next six months are make-or-break for the US military and the Iraqi government. The main obstacles confronting Gen Petraeus's team are:

· Insufficient troops on the ground

· A "disintegrating" international coalition

· An anticipated increase in violence in the south as the British leave

· Morale problems as casualties rise

· A failure of political will in Washington and/or Baghdad.

"The scene is very tense," the former official said. "They are working round the clock. Endless cups of tea with the Iraqis. But they're still trying to figure out what's the plan. The president is expecting progress. But they're thinking, what does he mean? The plan is changing every minute, as all plans do."

The team is an unusual mix of combat experience and academic achievement. It includes Colonel Peter Mansoor, a former armoured division commander with a PhD in the history of infantry; Colonel HR McMaster, author of a well-known critique of Vietnam and a seasoned counter-insurgency operations chief; Lt-Col David Kilcullen, a seconded Australian officer and expert on Islamism; and Colonel Michael Meese, son of the former US attorney-general Edwin Meese, who was a member of the ill-fated Iraq Study Group.

Their biggest headache was insufficient troops on the ground despite the increase ordered by President Bush, the former official said. "We don't have the numbers for the counter-insurgency job even with the surge. The word 'surge' is a misnomer. Strategically, tactically, it's not a surge," an American officer said.

According to the US military's revised counter-insurgency field manual, FM 3-24, written by Gen Petraeus, the optimum "troop-to-task" ratio for Baghdad requires 120,000 US and allied troops in the city alone. Current totals, even including often unreliable Iraqi units, fall short and the deficit is even greater in conflict areas outside Baghdad.

"Additional troops are essential if we are to win," said Lt-Col John Nagel, co-author of the manual, in an address at the US Naval Institute in San Diego last month. One soldier for every 50 civilians in the most intense conflict areas was key to successful counter-insurgency work.Compounding the manpower problems is an apparently insurmountable shortage of civilian volunteers from the Pentagon, state department and treasury. They are needed to staff the additional provincial reconstruction teams and other aid projects promised by Mr Bush.

The cut in British troops in southern Iraq, coupled with the actual or anticipated departure of other allies, has heightened the Petraeus team's worries that the international coalition is "disintegrating" even as the US strives to regain the initiative in Iraq, the former official said.

Increased violence in the south is expected, caused in part by the "displacement" of Shia militias forced out of Baghdad by the US crackdown. American and Iraq forces entered the militant Shia stronghold of Sadr City on Tuesday for the first time since the surge began. No other major operation has yet been attempted there but "we or the Iraqis are going to have to fight them", one US officer said.

According to a British source, plans are in hand for the possible southwards deployment of 6,000 US troops to compensate for Britain's phased withdrawal and any upsurge in unrest.

Morale is another concern in the Green Zone headquarters: American forces are preparing for a rise in casualties as the crackdown gathers pace. In a message to the troops after he assumed overall command last month, Gen Petraeus praised their sacrifices while warning of more "difficult times" to come.

"We serve in Iraq at a critical time ... A decisive moment approaches. Shoulder to shoulder with our Iraqi comrades we will conduct a pivotal campaign to improve security for the Iraqi people. The stakes could not be higher," Gen Petraeus said.

"It's amazing how well morale has held up so far," the former official said. "But the guys know what's being said back home. There is no question morale is gradually being sapped by political debates."

The advisers are also said to be struggling to prevent the "politicisation" of the surge by the Shia-dominated government. The fear is that any security advances may be exploited to further weaken the position of Baghdad's Sunni minority.

Despite progress this week on a new law sharing Iraq's oil wealth, the Petraeus team believes the government is failing to work hard enough to meet other national reconciliation "benchmarks" set by Mr Bush.Yet it is accepted that the US is asking the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to do what most politicians in normal circumstances would refuse to contemplate. "What we're doing is asking Maliki to confront his own powerbase," one officer said.

Possibly the biggest longer term concern of Gen Petraeus's team is that political will in Washington may collapse just as the military is on the point of making a counter-insurgency breakthrough. According to a senior administration official, speaking this week, this is precisely what happened in the final year of the Vietnam war. Steven Simon, the national security council's senior director for transnational threats during the Clinton administration, said a final meltdown in political and public backing was likely if the new strategy was not seen to be working quickly.

"The implosion of domestic support for the war will compel the disengagement of US forces. It is now just a matter of time," Mr Simon said in a paper written for the Council on Foreign Relations. "Better to withdraw as a coherent and at least somewhat volitional act than withdraw later in hectic response to public opposition... or to a series of unexpectedly sharp reverses on the ground," he said.

"If it gets really tough in the next few months, it will throw fuel on the fire in Washington," the former official said. "Congress will be emboldened in direct proportion to the trouble in Iraq." If the policy was not judged to be working by Labor Day (the first Monday in September which marks the start of the new political year), Mr Bush could lose control of the policy to Congress and be forced to begin a phased pull-out, he suggested.

A senior Pentagon official said this week that it was too early to gauge the strategy's chances of success - but preliminary reports were encouraging. "There are some promising signs. There is a new overall Iraqi commander in Baghdad. A number of joint operations have just begun. The number of political murders has fallen. Iraqi forces are showing up as promised, admittedly a little bit under strength, and are taking up some of the responsibilities that Maliki said he would,"he said. "We have to be realistic. We're not going to stop the suicide bombers and the roadside explosive devices for some time. And the military alone are certainly not going to solve the problem. Maliki has to meet the benchmarks. A civilian surge is needed, too. The Iraqis have to do it themselves."

US officials say they also have rising hopes of a breakthrough in Sunni-dominated Anbar province where tribal chiefs are increasingly hostile to al-Qaida and foreign fighters - and are looking to build bridges with moderate Shias.

But this week's US decision to join talks on Iraq with Iran and Syria, after previously refusing to do so, is nevertheless seen as an indication of the administration's growing alarm at the possibility of a historic strategic failure.