hawaii, reese, and anal sex

Well, I’m in Hawaii, and you know what? They should really market this place as a vacation destination or something. It’s nice!
I’m staying at a lovely cottage in Kailua, which is a lovely little town on the northeast shore of Oahu. Not touristy, not resorty — just a nice middle-class town with a great beach. Haven’t seen any identifiable tourists yet, although I’m sure they’ll pop up. I’m right around the corner from Kailua Intermediate, home of one of the cooler mascots I’ve heard of, the Junior Surfriders. Mad props to the estimable Lisa — occasional commenter on these pages, Friend-Of-Crabwalk, and former Hawaii resident — for suggesting the place.
Rental car note: Any initial excitement you may have at being offered a cheap convertible at Dollar Rent-A-Car will be extinguished the moment you step into your Chrysler Sebring and realize you’ve seen lawnmowers with more power.
In other F.O.C. news, congrats to Reese on the birth of son Hank. (Actually, in the email he sent out, Reese only refers to “the baby,” but I’m making the assumption that a child named Hank is a son, not a daughter. I think that’s pretty safe.)
And, finally, I’d like to point out this article in Slate by the weirdly conservative Will Saletan. (I don’t mean politically conservative — I mean stylistically conservative. I always imagine him writing with a bow tie and a schoolmarm’s pucker.) It details how the media missed the boat when reporting on the CDC’s recent release of sexual-activity data. Newspapers all reported on the (shocking!) fact that a lot of teenagers perform oral sex. They missed the big story, he says, which was that around 35 to 40 percent of young adults have had anal sex.
Now, what minor media organization focused on the anal-sex numbers the moment the data came out? This one.
Where I disagree with Saletan is his tsk-tsking that this is awful awful awful because more anal sex means we’re all going to die of AIDS. (That’s an ever-so-slight oversimplification of his argument, but there you have it.) But Saletan himself quotes the CDC’s own stats on HIV transmission:
According to data released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control, the probability of HIV acquisition by the receptive partner in unprotected oral sex with an HIV carrier is one per 10,000 acts. In vaginal sex, it’s 10 per 10,000 acts. In anal sex, it’s 50 per 10,000 acts.
This fits in with a long-time crabwalk obsession: HIV is actually really hard to get if you’re a healthy heterosexual American. Re-read those numbers: If you have unprotected vaginal sex with someone who is HIV positive, you still only have about a 1-in-1,000 chance of becoming infected yourself. Oral sex is 1-in-10,000, and even unprotected receptive anal sex with a HIV-positive partner is only 1-in-200. How many sex-ed classes are honest about that? If they’re anything like the classes I took as a kid, they pretty much all said any of those scenarios meant instant death.
(Also note that all of those stats are for the receptive partner — i.e., the woman, if we’re speaking heterosexually. Female-to-male transmission is several times more difficult than that.)
The fact of the matter is that, as long as you’re not sleeping with bisexuals or IV drug users, heterosexual Americans just don’t get HIV. It just doesn’t happen. The number of heterosexual-to-heterosexual transmissions among otherwise healthy Americans is vanishingly small.
Now, none of this is to say (a) we should cut AIDS funding or anything stupid like that — we should of course do the opposite; (b) that AIDS in Africa is a myth of some sort — it’s not, because poorly maintained African bodies are much more likely to ease transmission; I spent six weeks in Africa reporting on this; (c) that there aren’t plenty of other bugs out there that are no fun at all and are much easier to transmit than HIV (herpes chief among them); or (d) that the fact AIDS is still primarily a gay problem in this country makes it even one iota less important.
But I don’t like false scaremongering, and that’s what we’ve traditionally had in this country about HIV. It comes from a good place — the idea being that heteros won’t care about AIDS unless they can be convinced it will affect them — but it’s just wrong.

arrested development

I really only watch one TV show: Arrested Development. But I’ve never actually seen a full episode on TV.
I got the first season’s episodes on DVD as a birthday gift. By the time I watched them all, the second season was nearly over — so I went on a downloading spree to find all that season’s episodes online.
The third season started this week — so did I tune in at the appointed hour? Nope — just hit the Interwebs, downloaded the magical bittorrent, and I had the full HDTV episode on my computer in under 10 minutes. (Funny stuff. Seems to be getting a bit broader and more slapsticky in its middle age — which isn’t bad.)
I remember this summer going to a local pizza joint (for their excellent chicken parm sub) one night and actually seeing the show on the TV there. It was the first time I’d seen it on a real set, with commercials and stuff. It kinda freaked me out.

rebecca c in nola

It was just pointed out to me that I shouldn’t link to one Friend-Of-Crabwalk-journalist-returns-to-her-native-New-Orleans-to-survey-the-destruction story and not the other. So I present the supadupa Rebecca Catalanello. Her journalistic skill is surpassed only by the subtle grace with which she, er, pointed out to me that I shouldn’t link to one Friend-Of-Crabwalk-journalist-returns-to-her-native-New-Orleans-to-survey-the-destruction story and not the other.

someone still loves you boris yeltsin

Lower The Gas Prices, Hwd. Johnson, by one of my favorite recent discoveries, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. This track’s a bit peppier than their album, Broom, but it hits their Big Star + Belle & Sebastian dream-pop sound. Another MP3: House Fire.
(Fave track on the album, Pangea, “in which you winkingly excavate the similarities between two drifting lovers and the fractured demise of Earth’s original monocontinent.”)
New Yorkers, they’re playing at Mickey’s Blue Room in the East Village tonight.

my upcoming travels

I think I mentioned this before, but I’m about to skip town for a month. First, I go up to Connecticut for my friend Kim‘s wedding to the lovely and talented Eric. Then a brief stop in New Haven for a visit to my journalistic alma mater.
Then comes the big fun: a Jefferson Fellowship that will take me to China and Japan for almost all of October. And it starts out with a trip to…Hawaii. (I know — I’m a lucky guy.)
I’ve never been to Hawaii. Never even really thought about going to Hawaii. Anyone have any advice? I’ll be there from a Thursday to a Sunday and I have neither hotel reservations nor plans.

functional psychopaths and investing

For the record, when I said passionless picking was the core of the crabwalk.com investing philosophy a few days ago, I didn’t mean to take it to these extremes:
“Functional psychopaths” make the best investment decisions because they can’t experience emotions such as fear, a study by researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business showed.
Fear stops people from taking even logical risks, meaning those who have suffered damage to areas of the brain affecting emotions, and can suppress feeling, make better decisions, the report showed. The ability to control emotion helps performance in business and the financial markets, the researchers found.
That said, I don’t see how anybody could screw up the gambling/investing experiment the researchers were trying out. (They gave people $20 and then offered to flip a coin for a $1 wager. If they lost the coin flip, they lost the $1. If they won the flip, they won $2.50 — their $1 back plus $1.50. The researchers found that people with brain damage deadening their emotions agreed to more coin flips than people with “normal” brains, who apparently got scared of losing.)
I mean, who wouldn’t take that bet, every single time? First, your actual risk is zero — you’re playing with the researchers’ 20 bucks! Second, a 50/50 chance at a 150% return? You gotta take that bet every time — particularly if you’re going to get, at a minimum, 20 chances to make the bet, meaning the law of averages alone gives you a near 100% chance of coming out ahead.
Still, the “functional psychopaths” only wagered their buck 84% of the time, and the “normal” folks wagered only 58% of the time. Silly.
(Also, I wrote the other day about David Swensen, the man who invests Yale’s endowment and wrote a new book about a sort of investing strategy not far from mine. Well, the results are in from another year of Swensen’s work: a 22.3 percent return, versus 4.4 percent for the S&P. Quote: “The University consistently ranked in the top one percent of institutional funds during the past decade, with an average return of 17.4 percent…In comparison, the S&P 500 had an annualized return of 8.1 percent.”)