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Thursday, March 6, 2008

10 Things Your Dad Never Told You About Sex

How did you learn about the finer points of sex? Maybe you watched that awkward sex education video that was filmed a good 20 years before your time and made sex out to be a clinical and methodical process. Some schools had in-class demonstrations of your 60-something teacher delicately peeling a condom down over a banana like some giant, yellow (and slightly curved) penis. The mere thought of that image alone is enough to remain celibate and move to a monastery in Tibet for the rest of your life! Other people found out about sex by getting stuck in to a good old fumble session in the drama studio during a free period. Whatever your story, it’s likely you had the talk from your old man at some point as well.

Talking about sex can be uncomfortable, particularly for a dad with his teenage son. A sex ed talk from your father usually consists of the following:

  • Wear a condom.
  • Treat the girl with respect.
  • Don’t rush her.
  • Save yourself for the right girl.

Of course, none of this prepares us for the harsh reality of a proper sexual encounter. Our fathers have failed us in our pursuit for sexual enlightenment. With this in mind, I present to you The 10 Things Your Dad Never Told You About Sex (But Really Should Have).

#10 - Sex Fetishes


Image by lowfreq

I really wish my father had told me what a fetish was before I started having sex. The first time a woman asked me if I was into “Formicophilia” I thought she was speaking Italian to me. It turns out she got a real sexual kick out of having bugs, insects and creepy crawlies all over her genitals and wanted to share this delightful experience with me. Apparently fetishes are a normal variation of human sexuality which range from vanilla to just plain weird. I don’t mind a bit of biting and spanking every now and again but I draw the line at inviting cockroaches to the party. Make sure you know a bit about fetishes before engaging in sex because nobody wants to find out their girlfriend has a scat fetish after the fact.

#9 - It’s not like a porno movie


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Imagine my surprise when, after years of watching Jenna Jameson bounce up and down on multiple guys and screaming with pleasure, I finally lost my virginity to a shy little red head with a freckled face, glasses and braces on her teeth. I thought sex would be all about screaming, dirty orgasms and filthy talk. Not only that, I thought that every seemingly innocent situation could be initiated into impromptu sex. If my friends mum offered me a cup of tea while we waited for him to get home from work, I thought she might jump my bones any second. Alas, it never happened. As for the red head, it was less like a speeding train and more like a brisk walk. Sex is nothing like it appears in porn. (unless you happen to be dating a porn star)

#8 - Pace yourself


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As a knock-on effect of the porn delusions I suffered from, I thought that going at it hammer-and-tongs for long periods of time was the norm. Those porn stars could last forever and so I was utterly disappointed when my encounter with the shy red head lasted a mere 2 minutes before I rolled over and fell asleep. If you’ve never heard the story of the tortoise and the hare, I’m sure it related to sex. Women want a stallion who can last the distance and although sometimes a quickie can be just as fun, nobody wants it to be over before it’s even begun.

#7 - Headaches are no excuse not to have sex


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At 21, my girlfriend of the time regularly used to tell me she wasn’t in the mood for a bit of nookie because she ‘had a headache’. New evidence has come to light though which says that the female orgasm releases endorphins (a natural painkiller). This means that sex is a headache cure. I’d go as far as to use this to try and have sex with your girlfriend for any number of ailments. Broken leg? Sex can ease your pain, baby. Your (hot)friend has a broken heart? I’ll give her an orgasm to make her feel better. Genital herpes? Er…you’re on your own there, darling.

#6 - Threesomes are not as common as you think


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A combination of porn and ‘true story’ articles in Maxim and FHM had me growing up thinking that a threesome was a natural part of everyday life and would happen regularly. After losing a couple of girlfriends through requests for their big-bosomed friend to join us for a session, I began to lose faith. Some people claim that “Ménage á trois” is actually French for “In your dreams”. While I’m sure many people have had threesomes (or more) with other women, the sad reality is that the threesomes we could have would most often involve not another woman, but another man.

#5 - Impotence is a grounds for divorce


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In over 20 states in America, impotence can be cited as the grounds for a marriage breakdown and subsequent divorce. I’m sure a few wealthy businessmen who didn’t see the need for a pre-nup are now kicking themselves for their shortsightedness. It’s not enough that men have the burden of pleasuring the woman they love and rising to the occasion every time. Now we have the added pressure that if we can’t get it up and give our wife a good seeing to, she can divorce us. If you weren’t suffering from penile dysfunction before, you may well do now! I think there should be another reason for divorce created to cite women who don’t have the necessary fellatio skills to keep a man at full mast. Believe me, I’ve met a few of them.

#4 - Most women need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm


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What? My dad never told me that. All these years I’ve been performing the sexual equivalent of stuffing a turkey and I never knew it. A lot of guys don’t even think about her pleasure during sex because it’s so easy to get lost in the moment. Thinking about it from a female perspective though, it makes sense. In, out. In, out. In, out. Yeah, I can see how that might get a bit boring after a while. The key is to master the clit using your fingers, tongue and any other body part you think can do the job. One of the best positions to get her clit going is doggy style with a manual reacharound. Try it and become a stud today.

#3 - Your penis can explode


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I’ve watched an entire TV documentary on sex disasters and things that go wrong during sex and it has changed the way I look at sex forever. I remember one in particular involving a Romanian man and his sexy 18 year-old girlfriend. If you’ve ever had an erection so hard you felt like it could burst, imagine how this guy felt. His erection was so hard, firm and manly that the blood cavities in the penis actually burst. Can I get an overwhelming “Ouch!” from the guys reading this? And it’s not just your penis exploding you need to worry about. There’s something a lot more common that nobody told me about until it happened to me. The dreaded ‘banjo string’. If you don’t know what the banjo string is, it’s the piece of skin between the penis and the foreskin and is officially known as the frenulum. If you’ve been circumcised congratulations, you probably haven’t even got a banjo string. If you haven’t, there is a good chance that rough sex can ’snap’ this little bit of skin and it bloody hurts. And bleeds. A lot.

#2 - Only 1 in 400 men can give themselves oral sex


Image by DanOrange

While it’s not surprising that only 1 man out of every 400 has the size and/or flexibility to perform fellatio on themselves, what is really embarrassing is that most of, if not all of, the 400 men have tried to give themselves oral. I find it a slap in the face to evolution that men created the wheel, flew to the moon, invented electricity and learnt to fly, yet they still attempted to suck themselves off in the bathroom. If you’re laughing while you read this, then chances are you’ve tried this yourself. If you have a smug grin on your face while you read this, then maybe you should consider a career in porn.

#1 - Men have a G-spot too


Image by Travelin’ fan

Men actually have a spot which, when stimulated, can induce pleasure in much the same way as the female G-spot. The irony of this is that to pleasure ourselves in this way we have to explore areas of our body that most straight men would prefer not to explore. For some reason, our prostate is the source of this pleasure and it happens to be buried deep in our dirtbox. If you want to explore the joy of rubbing this sacred spot, you need to insert one (or two if you’re feeling brave) fingers directly into your anus. I experienced this completely by accident one evening when an ex-girlfriend decided to surprise me with an impromptu anal probing. Needless to say, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing as a result. If you’re brave enough to try it, lube up. Trust me, it won’t be anywhere near as enjoyable going in dry.

I had to learn all of this (and much, much more) through my own investigation and experimentation because my father only ever gave me two pieces of advice before I became sexually active:

  1. Shag as many women as you can while you’re still young.
  2. Don’t get her pregnant or bring home any infections.

If you have any sex information or advice that you think people should know about, or you want to share the key points of your own sex talk with your dad, leave a message in the comments. Ladies, feel free to comment too on things guys do wrong in the sack or things they should do more often and if your mother gave you some brilliant sex advice then for the love of God, please share it with us too.

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Flip Your Karma: 8 Tricks to Turn the Bad Into the Awesome

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” - Japanese proverb

It’s inevitable: sometimes, life just doesn’t go your way.

Your schedule gets all messed up. You fail to follow your exercise plan. Someone is mean to you. You feel like quitting something. You want to curl into a little ball and cry.

Life deals out its blows, and leaves us discouraged, angry, frustrated, depressed, drained. And once we’re in that bad place, in a mood where we just don’t care about anything, it’s pretty hard to get out of it.

But let me share a little secret to happiness and self-improvement here: all that stuff? It’s just in your head.

Yeah, it sure doesn’t seem like it. It seems that the slings and arrows of life are all coming at us. It feels like we’re a failure. But it’s true. It’s all in your mind.

How can I trivialize horrible things that happen to you like that? By making it seem like a simple mental problem? Because that’s what it is, and once you realize that, you are liberated — you have the power to change your circumstances!

It’s not an easy task, I’ll give you that. It’s incredibly, monumentally hard. Changing your mind and changing your life is a mental hurdle worthy of the titans.

But it can be done. All it takes is a few mental tricks, and a lot of energy and willingness to keep an open mind.

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” - Swedish proverb

Let me give you an example: for the last couple years, I’ve struggled with exercise. I actually enjoy running and working out, but there are days when I don’t feel like doing a thing, or when I feel under the weather, and those days can stretch out to a week and that week can stretch into a few weeks. And then I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon and it feels like I can’t get back on.

But then I use the first couple of tricks below, and my mindset changes. I switch on the positive attitude, and realize that my failure to exercise is actually just a stepping stone to fitness success. And looking back, I’ve had 6-7 of these failures, or stepping stones, and they’ve all led me further down the path to fitness. Today, I exercise almost every day, and I’m loving it.

The same is true of every other success I’ve had. This blog, for example, is a success in my eyes, but I’ve had points where I was discouraged by negative comments or emails. I flipped that discouragement around, however, and used the comments to help myself improve.

I had many failures along the way to eliminating my debt, but I made it there in the end, by not quitting. I have faced many tests of my patience and character, and failed not a few of those too. But through practice, I’ve gotten better, and while I’m not perfect, I know that I’ll only continue to improve if I keep the same mindset.

It’s all in your mind. Here are 8 tricks I use to turn anything bad into something truly awesome.

  1. The power of positive thinking. I learned the power of positive thinking while I was quitting smoking, and I used the lessons of that challenge to help me with every other challenge I’ve faced since. Quitting smoking, as most smokers (and ex-smokers) know, is supremely difficult. There are many times throughout each day, in the first few weeks especially, when you feel like giving up. When you want just one cigarette (which leads to two …). When you just don’t see the point of all this suffering. And yet, if you realize that it’s just negative thinking, you can squash that negative thought like a little bug. Then replace it with a positive thought (I CAN do this!) and you’re back on the road to success. Recognize negative thoughts, squash them, and find positive thoughts to replace them. Works every time.
  2. Failure is a stepping stone to success. This is what I tell myself every time I fall. I get up, dust myself off, and start again. Each failure shows you an obstacle you didn’t anticipate, and you can plan to beat that obstacle next time. Each failure brings you that much closer to winning. And you know what? Every single time I’ve told myself that, so far, it’s been true. I’ve succeeded. Getting back up is the main thing.
  3. Practice patience. This is what I tell myself when I get frustrated, when someone is difficult, when I begin to lose my patience. First, I vent somehow (talking to a friend or my wife is one of the best ways for me). Then, I tell myself that this is a great way for me to practice my patience. Sometimes, I have to repeat this to myself like a mantra, but it works nonetheless.
  4. Learning experience. Similar to the “stepping stone to success” trick above, but it can be used for anything, not just failure. If I make a mistake, if I make the wrong choice, if I have a bad day … I just see it as an opportunity to learn. Then I review it in my head, trying to figure out what went wrong, trying to learn from my mistakes. If you see learning as a wonderful thing, as I do, then you can see every mistake as a blessing.
  5. Makes you stronger. “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger,” goes the famous saying. And while that’s not always true (sometimes we can be left weakened and ruined), I’ve found it to be true in most cases. Something is difficult? I will be a stronger person for having endured it. This has been the case for me when I went through problems as a teen-ager (I ran away from home and slept in Golden Gate Park in S.F.), when I went through a divorce seven years ago, when I had stressful and trying times at various jobs. I became a better person because of it.
  6. Test of your character. I like tests and challenges. It motivates me to step up to another level, to see if I can meet the challenge. This is the case with my first marathon, which was very difficult for me (for various reasons). It wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience for me, but I just saw it as a test. And when I passed that test, it was a joyous thing for me. This is true any time you go through a trying time — see it as a challenge, and try to meet that challenge. And when you do, you’ll feel great about yourself.
  7. Turn the other cheek. Jesus said that instead of taking an eye for an eye, if someone hits you, just turn the other cheek. I don’t know many people who can meet this monumental challenge. I’ve tried it. It’s not easy, and the desire to avenge any wrongs is hard to quash. However, I believe that even making an effort at this will make you a better person. It goes not just for physical wrongs to you, but anything that anyone does to you. They call you a name? Thank them. There will be some people who say that you have to meet force with force, or people will walk all over you. To this I say, “Where does it end?” And I also say, “You are merely stooping to their level.” Rise above the pettiness of others, and become a better human being.
  8. Love your enemy. I wrote about this recently as one of life’s greatest challenges, and it belongs on this list. When you have anger toward another human being, give this a try. If you succeed, to any degree whatsoever, you will rejoice in this success. It is a miraculous thing.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” - Winston Churchill

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5 Things Your Car Will Finally Do In 2020

We’ll spare you the far-future posturing and flying-car jokes, but the future looks bright. In fact, we’ve already made some pretty impressive headway. The 2008 Mercedes S-Class can change lanes on the highway automatically, and both the Toyota Prius and the Lexus LS-460 can self-park at the push of a button. But that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what’s in the works. With eyes wide and mouths agape, mental_floss peeked under the curtain at the cars of the future. Here’s what we can tell you about what you’ll be driving in 2020.

1. Your Car Will Predict The Future

Self-parking cars are great and all, but there’s a big difference between features of convenience and the kinds of safety technologies on the horizon. We’re talking about cars that can see into the future and react on a dime—whether that means detecting a person crossing the street or swerving to avoid oncoming traffic.

crystalball.jpgThere’s no doubt the artificial intelligence required to protect you from those dangers is incredibly sophisticated, but it’s becoming more widely available every day. Vehicles equipped with hundreds of sensors will be able to monitor their surroundings, both from a short-range perspective (to detect things like barriers and stop signs) and a long-range perspective (to detect things like a truck barreling toward you). But they won’t be working alone.

Cars of the future will also utilize video monitors located at intersections. Currently planned for many towns and cities across the United States, these monitors will feed data to your car over a wireless network. From as far as 30 miles away, they’ll be able to transmit video imagery right to your dashboard. So, if you didn’t see that pedestrian walking into the street, the video system would know where you were, know about the pedestrian, and warn you to pay attention. It’s similar to Google’s new Street View maps system. Already available in larger cities like San Francisco and New York, the application shows fluid, 360-degree video images of nearly every block in the area. And while it’s only accessible from computers now, similar real-time images will soon be available right on your dash.

Taking the concept one step further, engineers also plan to equip cars with computer processors that can analyze these kinds of video feeds to assess abnormalities in traffic. So rather than just warning you of an upcoming obstacle in the road, cars will use the data to deploy airbags at just the right location within the vehicle. Or, they could decide to take over the steering when needed. Basically a smarter version of the existing Electronic Stability Control feature (available on several luxury car models now), the cars will monitor weather and traffic, and adjust tire speeds to make sure you stay on the road and don’t flip the vehicle. How long ’til everyone on the block has one? The system will be required on all new U.S. cars for the 2012 model year, but you should expect to see it even sooner than that.

2. Your Car Will Talk To The Road – And The Road Will Talk Back

It’s one thing to have a car that senses other vehicles, but something else entirely to have the road itself know where your car is at all times. To make that possible, city governments and automakers are joining forces to launch new Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) systems. Using short-range wireless signals, vehicles will be able to communicate not only with each other, but with all the infrastructure on the road. Transportation agencies in cities across America currently have plans to install DSRC technology at major intersections and high-accident areas. In response, major auto manufacturers will offer DSRC support for their cars. The communication network will monitor where cars are traveling, as well as read traffic-light information and road-sign sensors. With both cars and roadways enabled, formerly unimaginable safety benefits will become a reality. For instance, ambulances will be able to trigger upcoming traffic lights to change from red to green.

GPS-satellite.jpgBut there are plans to go even further. According to DaimlerChrysler, old satellites (accurate to about 3 feet) could be replaced with much more powerful Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, which could pinpoint your vehicle to a few centimeters. And while there are only 30 active GPS satellites in space today, engineers hope to have as many as 50 in the future. The new system will be able to track weather conditions and suggest alternate routes. For example, you could avoid a tornado in Kansas or damaging hail in Fargo, or loop around Chicago traffic using real-time data that’s continually updated.

3. Your Car Will Take Itself Into The Shop For Maintenance

Having wireless networks set up along the roadways—such as those necessary for seeing images of upcoming intersections—translates to endless possibilities for cars and drivers in the future. Example: Imagine passing a maintenance station that remotely signals your in-car navigation system that it’s time for an oil change. Better yet, it could go ahead and wirelessly upgrade your car’s software modules or check the performance of its safety sensors.

Perhaps even more exciting are the possibilities for electric hybrids. Once electric cars outnumber gas-engine cars, satellite-based wireless power systems could recharge vehicles from space. How’s that possible? The satellites would gather solar energy from space and then transmit the power to a receiver on the vehicle via a wireless signal. It would work the same as a wireless computer network, except the signal would carry energy instead of data.

4. When You Drive Through McDonald’s, Your Car Will Be Debited, Not Your Visa

Microprocessors are already embedded into many parts of an automobile—from an engine’s control-valve timing system to the seat controls. So why not have a microprocessor that manages financial transactions? Several states already offer special debit cards that mount to your windshield as you pass through a toll, but those are primitive compared to what’s to come.

In the future, when you pull into the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant, a local Wi-Fi network will be able to communicate with your vehicle by way of an encrypted wireless signal. In other words, after you order your food, the car will automatically make the financial transaction. And the electronic signature? It’s likely that the navigational systems in your car will have expanded beyond route planning and safety warnings into something involving a signature pad that would allow you to type in a passcode (or use a fingerprint or eye retina scan) as an electronic signature. Once the infrastructure is in place, your car will become like a mini-ATM for drive-thru establishments. Of course, whether or not that’s a good thing for your budget remains to be seen.

5. Go Ahead, Take A Nap. Your Car Will Drive Itself.

Futuristic cars tricked out with their own ATMs and self-maintenance features sound nice, but for many engineers, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real holy grail? A fully automated, driverless car.

Shining a big spotlight on such efforts is DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), a Department of Defense organization aimed at perfecting the robotic technology needed for safe, autonomous military vehicles. In 2005, Stanford robotics expert Sebastian Thrun (who we gushed over in our last issue on page 33) won the DARPA Grand Challenge with his autonomous car, Stanley. Although the competition is aimed at developing machinery to protect soldiers, Thrun believes the technology will reach civilians sooner than you might think. And driverless cars, he believes, could save thousands of lives each year.

In June 2007, Thrun’s new robotic roadster, Junior, completed several test runs in preparation for the DARPA Urban Challenge (scheduled for November 2007). Although Junior never went faster than 15 mph, it made a three-point U-turn and navigated through a four-way stop. That’s right; Thrun is getting close to achieving a fully automated, road-ready car.

Where could this lead? Well, a highway system for starters—say, from San Francisco to Los Angeles—for driverless vehicles only. Using a wireless signal, barriers on either side of the road could communicate with cars to keep them on track. And vehicles could simply use older cruise-control technology to maintain steady speeds. Conceivably, this would allow drivers to sleep through long stretches of highway—or at the very least read the morning paper and drink their coffee. Another advantage is that these routes could have less restrictive speed limits—likely well over 100 mph—which could redefine the morning commute for many Americans.

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Amazing Speed Painting of Ray Charles

hand paint

Can't Touch This

Italy's highest appeals court ruled that a 42-year-old workman broke the law by "ostentatiously touching his genitals through his clothing" and must pay a 200 euro fine, the Telegraph reported Friday. The U.K. paper also noted that crotch-grabbing is a common habit among superstitious Italian males, who believe the gesture wards off bad luck. What does the crotch have to do with luck?

It's the seat of fertility. The crotch grab goes back at least to the pre-Christian Roman era and is closely associated with another superstition called the "evil eye"—the belief that a covetous person can harm you, your children, or your possessions by gazing at you. Cultural anthropologists conjecture that men would try to block such pernicious beams by shielding their genitals, thus protecting their most valued asset: the future fruit of their loins. Over the centuries, the practice shifted. Men covered their generative organs not only to defend against direct malevolence but also in the presence of anything ominous, like a funeral procession.

These days, an Italian man might also grab his crotch in risky situations, like a high-stakes poker game. In such cases, the grab isn't a defense mechanism against bad luck but rather a way to generate good luck. Once again, this practice relates to the folk belief that the phallus is auspicious because it's the source of masculinity and reproduction.

As an alternative to grabbing themselves, Italians sometimes resort to phallic amulets or gestures that also have roots in the pagan world. Ancient Romans wore a phallus-shaped charm on their wrists or around their necks called the fascinus; modern Italians sometimes wear a corno, which is shaped like a horn. For centuries, Italians have been making a horizontal horn sign called the mano cornuta to repel adversity, accomplished by extending the index and little fingers while holding down the other two fingers with the thumb. When the same gesture is directed upward, it's the sign for a cuckold.

The crotch grab or corno might come in handy when Italians come across traditional bad omens, like nuns or the number 17. Women of the cloth are associated with two inauspicious places—cemeteries and hospitals. There are a couple of plausible theories for the 17 superstition: If the 1 is penciled in slightly below the 7, then the number looks a bit like a man hanging, where 1 is the man and 7 is the gallows. Written out in Roman numerals as XVII, 17 becomes an anagram for the Latin word vixi, which is the past tense of to live.* As it happens, many tomb inscriptions start with vixi, so the word and, by extension, 17 became connected with death.

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