Why the Sunday Times is bad for you

Usually I’m just amused by the self-loathing articles and columns in the Sunday Times, but lately they’ve been pushing more pieces on plastic surgery (in no way a reflection of recent ad placements, I’m sure). Elective plastic surgery freaks me out – why risk death, permanent pain or disfigurement to ‘fix’ some imaginary flaw that doesn’t even bother anyone else?
An article today, The man who wants to reshape your private parts, is a step too far:

“My customers say, ‘You know what, I don’t like the length of my labia minora. I don’t want the small lips projecting outside the outer lips.’ We can take that excess skin away. They say, ‘I don’t want my labia majora. They’re too flat, I want them full.’ We can inject fat there. Or, ‘I’ve got too much fat in my mons pubis. It looks like I have a penis.’ And we can do that. Or, ‘I’ve had children, I’m too relaxed, I want intense sexual gratification’, so we tighten the muscle. Or, simply, ‘I just look too old.’ Because it’s all about youth, youth, youth.”

But is he really helping us out, or giving us one more area of our bodies to feel paranoid about?
“Look, demand for these treatments comes from women,” he says. “I didn’t create it, the market was there, and I discovered it because I listened to women. Every single one of the procedures has been developed because it has been requested. And it’s going international. There is demand.”

And why is an article like that giving him publicity? How many more women suddenly feel paranoid after reading this article?
The author does that lovely ‘women’s mag’ thing of pretending to be objective while undermining any position that offers a real alternative.

In fact, there are no studies to prove that the diameter of a woman’s vagina is the determining factor in her sexual pleasure.
Real-life testimonials, however, speak volumes.

Right – so scientific evidence doesn’t count, but a single anecdote does? Never mind that the outcome given in the anecdote offered could have come from a number of sources – a placebo effect, the general effect of positive action on self-esteem.
The article at least offers this, from another plastic surgeon:

To tell someone otherwise is to promote body dysmorphia. What is the mentality of this person? It’s not progressive, it’s entrepreneurial. It’s about money. And doctors should never be about the money.

And call me a hippie, but surely there’s a better use of medical resources? The money could be better spent on education and preventing female genital mutilation, or trying to help the ‘100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM’. [WHO figures, May 2008]

Women had power in ancient Greece, but you’d never know…

A very real and interesting example of the ways in which assumptions made by archaeologists determine how they view the evidence. The implications, if anyone ever had time (and the guts) to go back and review the documentary records from previous digs, could be huge.
DNA reveals sister power in Ancient Greece

University of Manchester researchers have revealed how women, as well as men, held positions of power in ancient Greece by right of birth.
Women were thought to have had little power in ancient Greece, unless they married a powerful man and were able to influence him. But a team of researchers testing ancient DNA from a high status, male-dominated cemetery at Mycenae in Greece believe they have identified a brother and sister buried together in a richly endowed grave, suggesting that she had as much power as him.

Professor Brown recalled: We were surprised to discover what appears to be a sister buried beside her brother in the high status, male-dominated grave circle. The implication is that she was buried in Grave Circle B not because of a marital connection but because she held a position of authority by right of birth.

DNA explodes Greek myth about women

British researchers have unearthed evidence that proves Helen was much more than a chattel
Women in Ancient Greece were major power brokers in their own right, researchers have discovered, and often played key roles in running affairs of state. Until now it was thought they were treated little better than servants.
The discovery is part of an investigation by Manchester researchers into the founders of Mycenae, Europe’s first great city-state and capital of King Agamemnon’s domains.
‘It was thought that in those days women were rated as little more than chattels in Ancient Greece,’ said Professor Terry Brown, of the faculty of life sciences at Manchester University. ‘Our work now suggests that notion is wrong.’

The critical point, he said, was that the woman was thought to have been buried in a richly endowed grave because she was the wife of a powerful man. That was in keeping with previous ideas about Ancient Greece – that women had little power and could only exert influence through their husbands.
‘But this discovery shows both the man and the woman were of equal status and had equal power,’ he said. ‘Women in Ancient Greece held positions of power by right of birth, it now appears.
‘The problem has been that up until recently our interpretation of life in Ancient Greece has been the work of a previous generations of archaeologists, then a male-oriented profession and who interpreted their findings in a male-oriented way. That is changing now and women in Ancient Greece are being seen in a new light.’

Boris arts spin – or does Boris have the ability to go back in time?

I was so annoyed and bemused by something I read in today’s Urban Junkies London newsletter that I wrote to them.

I am really curious about today’s mailout, which says “Boris has temporarily come to the rescue. His launch of “Lates “” – but UJ have been promoting Lates at various venues for months, so you must know that the Lates initiative was already up and running when Ken was mayor.
I’m really disappointed – I know spin is everything and the truth means little in politics these days but I didn’t expect to see it in Urban Junkies.

It’s hugely ironic because Boris is probably going to have a huge negative impact on the arts in London. How dare his office try to claim an existing and well-established program started by the previous mayor as “Boris’ Lates”?
I’ll take everything I read in Urban Junkies with a pinch of salt now. I already did, to an extent, because their editorial direction was so clearly influenced by their advertisers, but at least it was obvious – when there was a huge ad banner followed by a big push in the text, you knew how to read between the lines. And Urban Junkies ran Lates ad campaigns before Boris was mayor, so I don’t see how they could claim ignorance of the prior existence of the Lates program.

Ten reasons to go vegetarian

Not that I had any idea it was ‘world vegetarian week’… Top Ten Reasons to Go Veggie During World Vegetarian Week includes:

“While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat.”
” A recent United Nations report entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow concludes that eating meat is “one of the … most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.””

I never thought I’d quote Paul McCartney, but there you go:

Sir Paul McCartney sums it all up, “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”