Autism and Vaccines, Earthquakes and Malaysian Mountain Spirits

Image of the hikers that circulated on social media.

Image of the hikers that circulated on social media.

It isn’t often that I laugh out loud while reading the staid New York Times, but I did last Thursday as I perused a story about four Western mountain climbers who, after scaling Malaysia’s highest peak, disrobed and took nude photos at the top. The cavorting tourists — a Canadian brother and sister, a woman from Britain and a Dutchman — were subsequently detained by authorities. The charge against them is public obscenity, but their real crime when they stripped atop Mount Kinabalu in May, according to the locals, was offending the holy mountain, angering it and thereby causing an earthquake in June that killed 18 people.

How supremely silly. Read more »

Two New Studies Debunk What You Thought You Knew About Millennials and Sex

As soon as I heard about the pair of new studies showing that millennials are getting less sex than their parents did, I knew the kids would twist themselves into pretzels explaining to me how that’s a good thing. After all, we’re the ones who ruined the environment, razed the economy and stuck them all with a hundred grand in college debt, so how could anything that we did ever be good?

The first of those two studies, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, revealed that millennials have had far fewer sexual partners than the boomers or Generation X. In fact, millennials are having sex less than anybody since their grandparents’ “Greatest Generation,” who averaged just two partners apiece. Boomers and Gen X’ers in the study averaged 11 sexual partners. Millennials, the study says, are likely to average eight. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Loretta Lynch Took on FIFA

360b / Shutterstock.com

Sepp Blatter at a reception for members of the FIFA in the Chanclery in Berlin in 2007. 360b / Shutterstock.com

He sounds like the abbreviation for a painful urological condition. Most Americans think she’s a country singer. That’s only part of why it was so improbable that new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch took on president Sepp Blatter’s FIFA this week, indicting nine current and former high-ranking officials of international soccer’s governing body for dirty dealing and bribery. Blatter, who’s been with FIFA since 1975, is known worldwide as the most powerful man in sports; he wasn’t named in Wednesday’s indictments, and he was actually reelected to a fifth term on Friday, giving him the opportunity to say in a speech, “I am the president of everybody.”

Except Loretta. Read more »

What’s the Future of PAFA in a STEM-Obsessed America?

Photo | GPTMC

Photo | GPTMC

The news earlier this year that venerable Sweet Briar College in Virginia was closing its doors despite a hundred years of history and an outstanding national reputation intensified shock waves already moving through the world of higher education. A senior vice president at Moody’s predicted more college closures to come, while the Department of Education announced it was monitoring 544 colleges and universities it considers to be on shaky financial ground.  When the National Association of College Admissions Counselors in May released its annual tally of colleges that had yet to meet their enrollment targets for next fall, there were 18 Pennsylvania schools on the list. Seven of those were local: Cabrini College, Delaware Valley University, Eastern University, Gwynedd Mercy College, Holy Family University, St. Joseph’s University … and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Okay, most of those are small liberal arts colleges — the sorts of places that, like Sweet Briar, are most likely to be facing economic straits. But PAFA? That two-centuries-old art school-cum-museum housed in a wedding-cake Frank Furness palace at Broad and Cherry? The school at which such prominent artists as Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Wharton Esherick, Benjamin West, Alexander Stirling Calder and David Lynch studied and/or taught? How could easels at such a renowned institution be going unused? Read more »

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