075) A Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare> by Jeremy Butterfield, finished August 8
    I love books on words. This one, specifically, is on the Oxford corpus and all the dandy things we can learn by examining it.

    Damp SquidUnfortunately, I didn't think to make a list of fascinating facts as I did with the next book on this list, but you should not take that to mean that I did not enjoy this book as much. I enjoyed this book immensely. I want you to consider me now, at this moment, pressing both Damp Squid and How Sex Works into your hands and saying Read! Read! You must read!

    This book was so good, I stopped reading How Sex Works's chapter on intercourse to come back to it and read some more about words.


    threeish weeks

074) How Sex Works: Why We Look, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Act the Way We Do by Dr. Sharon Moalem, finished August 6
    Don't you just love a riviting nonfiction book? One that you can't put down because you're just learning so many interesting things? I've been reading two and it's marvelous.

    This is the one about sex.

    Two brief observations, then I'll get down to business.

    How Sex WorksOne: This book is rife with typos. An unbelievable number. What, were they afraid sex was going to go out of style two weeks later if they did a last pass for errors? I just hope the errors stuck with grammar and didn't actually screw with content.

    Two: I'm fascinated with how the author personified Evolution. The text of the book treats Evolution as a godlike figure who wants things and causes things and influences things. But the moral of the story is even if Evolution made you a philanderer, you still have the brain Evolution gave you and you need not do what Evolution wants. It's a very postmodern religious idea.

    Now down to business. I've made a list of facts from this book that I found particularly interesting. That *I* found particularly interesting. Which means if you find them interesting at all, reading the book will provide ones you are charmed by even more. For instance, I didn't write down anything about crocodile feces because I already knew what Cleopatra did with it. So it wasn't that interesting. To me. You might feel differently.

    This book was a blast. Pick one up. (Or wait for the second printing if you're easily annoyed by lousy copyediting. Harper should certainly know better. No wonder traditional publishing's in the crapper.)

      in the last 150 years, the age for menarche has dropped from 17 to 12

      5% of people have a supernumerary nipple

      hourglass-shaped women are ~30% more fertile

      during arousal breasts can grow 25%

      hourglass-shaped women's children seem to be smarter

      16c-18c slang for the vulva: "hey nonny no" (which remakes my understanding of Much Ado About Nothing)

      menarche - first menstruation
      thelarche - first breast growth
      pubarche - first pubic hair growth

      popularity of the Brasilian wax is threatening the existence of crabs

      symbiosis: pubic and underarm sweat provides nutrients to feed microbes that create our personalized scents

      new trend in South Korea: pubic hair transplants

      it's possible to grow a baby to term outside the uterus

      Fallopian tubes not directly connected to ovaries --- they just open up into the same cavity we find intestines and the liver in

      ancient Egyptians made tampons of papyrus

      pitocin (for inducing labor) is a synthesized version of oxytocin, famous for its role in orgasm

      oxytocin may also help with autism symptoms

      the erect penis of a gorilla is about 1.5 inches long

      when a queen bee mates, in midair, you can hear an audible pop when the drone ejaculates and then his penis breaks off

      1999 study showed women 11xs more likely to experience discomfort during intercourse with a circumsized partner

      chimp semen can be so thick and sticky it can form a plug to keep out other males' semen

      Pythagoras's followers belived semen was a 'clot of brain containing hot vapor'

      semen includes sugar to fuel the sperm

      semen is alkaline to neutralize the acidic vagina

      having 15% of your sperm be viable is topnotch

      it seems that viewing porn that features men as well as women increases the sense of reproductive competition and thus sperm count and sperm quality

      the BBC commisioned on-camera semen taste-testing

      semen allergies do exist

      being in love makes other people less attractive

      gay men's brains react to male odors the same way straight women's do

      women (both straight and gay) prefer the smell of straight men to gay men

      more folate = more healthy sperm
      dark skin prevents UV from destroying folate
      therefore tall dark and handsom tend to have better sperm

      women with more symmetrical partners have more orgasms

      plastic surgery started in the 16th century for syphallis-destroyed noses

      monkeys will pay for pornography (spec. pictures of girl monkeys' butts)

      Jared Diamond wrote a book called Why Is Sex Fun?! Why didn't I know this?

      stimulating the G-Spot generally also stimulates the female prostate

      the prostate has the highest concentrate of zinc in the body and so does the prostate's contribution to semen

      feel like you're gonna pee before orgasm, ladies? it's probably female ejaculation

      zinc is bad for bacteria

      female ejaculate may help prevent urinary infections

      cranberries have a chemical that coats the bladder and keeps out germs

      oysters are loaded with zinc

      regular oral sex may decrease a woman's immune responce against that person's sperm, making fertilization more likely --- it also decreases the chances of preeclampsia (actually swallowing the semen provides the most protection from that potentially disasterous condition)

      there's video evidence out there somewhere of homosexual duck necrophilia (duck-on-dead-duck action!) --- he kept it up for an hour

      the female relations of gay men tgend to have more children than the female relatives of only straight men --- so it may be that there is a gene that causes men to like men, and it has survived because it also makes women like me

      proportion of ring to index fingers in lesbians is closer to that in males than in straight women

      the placenta prevents ~75% of HIV-infected mothers from passing it on to their children

      ≥¼ of American adults infected with HPV

      syphilis = 'great pox' in opposition to which comes the name small pox

      he marks condoms at 87% effective at preventing HIV transmission

      HIV most infectious immediately after initial infection

      HIV on the rise among seniors. Thank you, Viagra!
      (/16% of new cases in 2005)

      some plants mimic The Pill to cut down on the next generation of animals that like to eat them

      Google the Bruce effect

      Casanova wore condoms --- perhaps mostly to prevent nun pregnancies (they were made of dead animals in his day)

      there's a Thai group that offers free vasectomies on Father's Day

      Taking the Pill? That bleeding you experience isn't menstruation but withdrawal. If you don't stop taking the real Pill, you'll never have a period. (Although you will still spot now and then and if you get pregnant, you won't know it.)

      The Pill's side effects can include bigger, ah, boobs

      Women-on-the-Pill's ability to sniff out genetic diversity is reversed --- which might explain the increase in divorce, when lover's smell is not so good once you stop taking it

      Get this word: teledildonics

    a week

073) We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson, finished August 6
    The Big O asked me to read this book to him. And, to my surprise, stayed interested clear to the end. I think because of the pov choice I discussed last time I wrote about this book. He was engaged by the book entire --- LOVED it! --- when I thought he would only care about the pictures. I was happy to be proved wrong.

    Lady Steed and I have wondered about how much of the race issues Biggo was aware of as we read, and I really don't know. I'm coming to the opinion that while being white means we have the luxury of believing we live in a postrace society, protecting our children from reality may not be the best choice. It's hard to know though. But this book is so much more than racism. It's a book of baseball. And that's what O loves.

    We Are the Ship

    a week or so because the kid went to the grandparents for four days

072) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, finished July 29
    Neil Gaiman, ladies and gentlemen, Neil Gaiman as finally done it. Neil Gaiman has finally written a novel worthy of his talent. I no longer have to insist people read his comics and short stories. I no longer have to say, of his novels, yes they are good BUT. Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is pretty much perfect.

    This macabre riff on The Jungle Book is so good that it's hard even to know where to start talking about it. It functions on so many levels.

    So instead I'll just say this.

    I am buying a copy.
    It's going with us to read aloud on long trips.
    I am pressing it on friends.

    Basically, this book is all of Gaiman's merits --- not stretched out to novel form --- but woven together into a marvelous booklength tapestry.

    If you're wondering if I'm ever going to stop gushing and say something substantial, the answer is no.

    Great book. Great great book.

    I'm so glad he waited twenty years till he was good enough to write it.

    two or so weeks

071) The Left Bank Gang by Jason, finished July 22


    Finally! I've finally read a Jason book all the way through! And it did not disappoint. Anthropomorphic dogs named Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald spend their days making comics; and criticizing the comics of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Gertrude Stein. Finally hooking with with their bird pal James Joyce to pull a robbery.


    Jason's Left Bank Gang

    not much


the first five, 1-5
the second five, 6-10
the third five, 11-15
the fourth five, 16-20
the fifth five, 21-25
the sixth five, 26-30
the seventh five, 31-35
the eighth five, 36-40
the ninth five, 41-45
the tenth five, 46-50
the eleventh five, 51-55
the twelfth five, 56-60
the thirteenth five, 61-65
the fourteenth five, 61-65


  1. Indulge my vulagarity

    "semen includes sugar to fuel the sperm"

    In a sex-ed class the teacher brought this up and a girl of questionable moral standing raised her hand and said-"Then how come it's so salty?"

    Yes, I died laughing.

  2. .

    (I never precluded the existence of salt.)

  3. .

    [Edit: Corrected a couple embarrassing spelling errors, which I don't usually do, but this time, well, I just felt like it.]

  4. "so it may be that there is a gene that causes men to like men, and it has survived because it also makes women like me"

    was my favorite typo

    very educational; if I found this book on a remainder table, I would now buy it.

  5. .

    Oh, I missed that one. But you're right: it should stay.