Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tracy Moore - Meet the Spornosexuals: Muscled Men Who Embrace Equal Opportunity Objectification

About 20 years ago, a new word entered the cultural lexicon, and quickly became both pervasive and pointless - Mark Simpson's metrosexual. [Even now, the spell-checker in Blogger thinks its not a word.]

So Simpson thinks he has identified a new subculture in varied world of masculinities, the spornosexual, a second generation metrosexual where obsession with clothes is replaced by obsession with sports and fitness, and the added, seemingly ubiquitous porn addiction (or desire to be a porn star).

Oh, and they love to post selfies of their buffness on social media sites. Honestly, this makes them little different than all of the females who post pictures of themselves in their underwear or showing off their ass-sets. It all feels a bit homoerotic to me, which is also interesting. While certainly a lot of these guys identify as straight, there is also the element in this trend of wanting to be desired by both sexes, whether it's to be sexually desired (by women) or to instill jealousy (in other men) for their physiques (who will desire their buffness).

Besides, this type of selfie has long been an element in the gay male community - a kind of marketing tactic.

So, do we really need this word? Tracy Moore, writing for Jezebel, thinks not.

Meet the Muscled Men Who Embrace Equal Opportunity Objectification

by Tracy Moore | 6/23/14

What's with dudes getting buffer, y'all? Should we call it something? Other than, you know, buff dudes? What ever happened to beefcake? How about we ask that guy who came up with metrosexual. Oh, he already came up with something. Spornosexual. [dies]

Let's all say it once and then never say it again because this bullshit is never going to happen. Sporno-barf-ual. Sporno-vomitron. Sporno-dude-icus. Spornoshitcicle. In fairness, if I coined a term like metrosexual that actually caught on so thoroughly that it was used even by terribly unhip people in near-forgotten states where trends hit two years late even with the Internet, I'd probably enter the ring with lady luck again and try to coin another thing every six months.

Mark Simpson, term coiner, waited 20 years. That is something. But this spornosexual business just won't do. It is a new thing out this month already added to Urban Dick that's supposed to be a term describing a second-generation metrosexual, only + sports + porn, a portmanteau of sportsman and porn star. It's all thanks to the rise of selfies, social media, and a pornified culture, what Simpson describes as "the major vectors of the male desire to be desired."

One, it sounds too much like spore or spawn and therefore it is gross and dumb, the double-whammy of bad things you can do to concepts. At least metrosexual gave you a better sense of the intersections: Urban + sexuality. It was dumb, too, but had a kind of clarity we could all dread together while also comprehending.

Two, it's way too general and all encompassing of all dudes who are beefy and nice to look at on some level without really isolating any particular distinction. According to Simpson, the tools of these eye-burning bathing suits would qualify BUT ALSO this totally acceptable beefiness found in Daniel Osborne from The Only Way Its Essex. And, we can only presume, beefcakes such as Gosling, and Efron, and Tatum, etc.

I'm spornoconfused. Wait, what is a spornosexual supposed to be, again?

Says Simpson:

With their painstakingly pumped and chiselled bodies, muscle-enhancing tattoos, piercings, adorable beards and plunging necklines it's eye-catchingly clear that second-generation metrosexuality is less about clothes than it was for the first. Eagerly self-objectifying, second generation metrosexuality is totally tarty. Their own bodies (more than clobber and product) have become the ultimate accessories, fashioning them at the gym into a hot commodity – one that they share and compare in an online marketplace.

This new wave puts the "sexual" into metrosexuality. In fact, a new term is needed to describe them, these pumped-up offspring of those Ronaldo and Beckham lunch-box ads, where sport got into bed with porn while Mr Armani took pictures.

Let's call them "spornosexuals".
Second thought: Let's not. While it's worth looking at the way selfies and porn have intersected to give rise to the indulgence of our vainer tendencies, we've no doubt all moved a little closer to the light. The term spornosexual goes beyond that to generalize beyond comprehension and make extreme assumptions about the intelligence and sleaze of anyone who looks the part (whatever that part is/still don't get it).

Says Simpson: They want to be wanted for their bodies, not their wardrobe. And certainly not their minds.

Look, if you re-read his paragraphs and pretend they're about women it sounds like every dumb thing ever said about a woman who cares a lot about her appearance. Additionally, in the various coverage of the term, you get a good sense of the unease of writers (male and female) about men who boldly seek attention for their physique or have bodies that are considered sexually appealing.

Here's one:

The term encapsulates the new breed of male who thinks nothing of using (and abusing) products, practises and pleasures previously only the domain of women and gay men. Practises including wearing half-thongs to the beach.
Ugh, men showing their bodies? And thinking nothing of it?!

Another, which calls spornosexuality an "evolutionary step backward":

Spornosexual. It sounds like something Japanese businessmen might watch (featuring naked girls and fish), but actually it's the latest fad in male beauty.
Is it really a fad? Is men caring about their bodies and appearance and clothes — even to what we might think of as "extreme" by virtue of the cultural pressure on them not to care — a fad, or simply inevitable and quite human?


Women have had to endure this commercialisation for years, but for men the "fun" started in the 1990s with the rise of the metrosexuals – fellas who seemed to imagine that wearing a necklace made them feminists or even a little bit gay. But, in defence of metrosexuality, at least that trend was all about remaking yourself to be attractive to others. It was innately social. By contrast, the spornosexual is really only interested in how they look to themselves – it is narcissistic. By toning and perfuming and recording every ripple with Facebook selfies, they've converted their bodies into their own masturbatory aids.
He's right that women have had to endure this for years: Narcissism is usually aimed as a pejorative at women who spend a bajillion hours getting ready as a result of an insidious blend of liking to do it and being told since birth it's their first duty to mankind. But the answer to men increasingly getting on this vain train is not to mock men who give in to the pleasures of being desired, it's to eventually regard the desire to look good — whatever your definition of that is — as acceptable for the people who are into it, not spend another round of centuries now aiming the tired criticism of shallow frivolity at men.

He goes onto say there's nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but that prioritizing looking good above having brains (for men) is not a sign of gender equality or social progress. Again, the larger point is missed: Looking good without being viewed as intelligent is hardly considered problematic in women, much less viewed as a tragic development. But men being all brawn and no brain? A step back.

But back to those men: Certainly, the increasing focus on everyone feeling the pressure to look camera ready is a phenomenon well worth documenting, but not everyone feels that pressure, and it's certainly not summed up by spornosexual. Certainly it'd be nice if everyone could feel less pressure to look perfect, but this is capitalism, and equal opportunity objectification is probably the best we can hope for.

Simpson writes that spornosexuals have "photoshopped themselves in real life" which we know is a lot like a line out of Crazy, Stupid Love uttered by Emma Stone describing the body of none other than ultimate beefcake Ryan Gosling. This. But this is a long time coming and true of women too. In a piece about the rise of Hollywood hotties, Dodai tracked the trend that for men in the industry, it's no longer about acting; it's about abs.

The fact is, it's possible to discuss and critique the fact that men's bodies can be sexualized too, for better or for worse, and celebrate that choice when it is in fact a choice. Men's bodies are no less appealing or lust-inspiring than women's, and such determinations are a matter of opinion anyway. Still, it's hard to imagine a time when, no matter how much men "eagerly objectify" themselves, that such pressures will ever be a mandate. The decision to be extra-maniacal about your bod as a dude on earth is probably only going to help you, and even if it makes a lot of people invested in more rigid gender roles uncomfortable, for the time being, it's still optional.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News You Can Use

It's time for another Fitness Friday. Just because summer is winding down (Labor Day being the unofficial end of summer) does not mean we can stop staying fit and healthy.

This week we have a primer on the Anabolic Diet, a guide to high-intensity interval training, why the box squat is over-rated, Charles Staley on his training philosophy for clients, and finally, four myths about having a big bench press.

Complete Anabolic Diet Guide With Sample Meal Plan

Complete Anabolic Diet Guide With Sample Meal Plan
The Anabolic Diet is a muscle building and fat loss eating protocol developed by Dr. Mauro DiPasquale as a method to induce safe steroid-like gains for natural lifters.

Table of Contents:

  1. 1. Introduction
    1. 1.1. What are cyclic ketogenic diets (CKDs)?
  2. 2. The Anabolic Diet
    1. 2.1. Principles behind the Anabolic Diet
    2. 2.2. Anabolic Diet phases
    3. 2.3. Anabolic Diet macronutrient cycling
    4. 2.4. Purported physiology behind the Anabolic Diet
    5. 2.5. Anabolic Diet food choices
  3. 3. Sample Eating Plans
    1. 3.1. Sample weekday menu ~2800 calories
    2. 3.2. Sample Weekend Menu
  4. 4. FAQs about the Anabolic Diet

This Guide Teaches You:

  • What a cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD) is.
  • About the main principles of the Anabolic Diet.
  • The 3 phases of the Anabolic Diet: the induction, bulking and cutting phases.
  • How to cycle protein, carbs and fats.
  • What kind of meals you should eat on the Anabolic Diet.
The Anabolic Diet is a book/diet that was written/introduced into the health and fitness subculture in 1995 by Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale, a licensed physician from Ontario, Canada that has vested interests in sports medicine and nutrition. The Anabolic Diet is essentially Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale’s twist on a cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD).

Aside from his educational background in molecular biology and genetics and completion of his medical degree, Dr. Di Pasquale was a world-class powerlifter in the late 1970s. After he was finished competing he opened up his own practice to help athletes and even just lay-people achieve their health and fitness goals. The Anabolic Diet [currently out of print] is one of his first compositions, and he has since written a handful of other pertinent books.

But just because the Anabolic Diet is one of his older works doesn’t mean it isn’t still useful today, if anything it has quite a few worthwhile principles behind it. This guide will delve into what the Anabolic Diet is, the proposed science behind it, how to start your own Anabolic Diet regimen, and answer some frequently asked questions about it.

* * * * *

High-Intensity Interval Training: The Ultimate Guide

by Josh Bryant Aug 28, 2014

Get the story behind high-intensity interval training (HIIT), its muscle-building and fat-burning benefits, and how you can integrate it into your workouts!

Have you ever compared the physique of a world-class distance runner with that of a world-class sprinter? The sprinter's body resembles that of a Greek Adonis, with chiseled arms and powerful quads, while the skinny-fat distance runner makes Richard Simmons look like a Mr. Olympia contender.

These different body compositions point to the fact that not all cardio is created equal, which is why it's important to choose a form of cardio that meets your goals. A recent study compared participants who did steady-state cardio for 30 minutes three times a week to those who did 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) three times per week.

Both groups showed similar weight loss, but the HIIT group showed a 2 percent loss in body fat while the steady-state group lost only 0.3 percent. The HIIT group also gained nearly two pounds of muscle, while the steady-state group lost almost a pound.1

Excessive aerobic activity can decrease testosterone levels, increase cortisol production, weaken the immune system, handicap strength gains, and halt any hope of hypertrophy. But this doesn't mean you can't maximize muscle mass and strength gains while conditioning. It just means you need to be smart about your cardio.

Check out the different forms of conditioning you can use to trim down the smart way—without giving up your strength and muscle gains. 

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Why the Box Squat is Overrated

By Tony Gentilcore

Box for squatting 

There are a lot of things I don’t do anymore that I used to.

1. Unlike when I first moved here eight years ago, I no longer refer to Boston as Beantown. That’s a big no-no amongst locals.  Doing so is as sacrilegious as wearing a Laker hat or a Derek Jeter jersey down Boylston!

2. I don’t watch Saturday morning cartoons. That much.

3. I don’t start hyperventilating into a brown paper bag anymore if a baseball player walks in on day one and lacks internal range of motion in his dominant throwing shoulder. As Mike Reinold brilliantly states HERE, glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD for short. Who wants to write all that out?) is a normal adaptation to the throwing shoulder.

4. I no longer feel Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the weakest chapter in the Star Wars saga.  That title goes to Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

5.  And, I don’t pick my nose in public.*

Wanna know what else I don’t do?

I Don’t Place Box Squats Into Any of My Programs

Yes, yes I did.

Well, I do and I don’t.  Let me explain myself a bit further.

So that I can stave off the barrage of hate mail and people reaching for their pitchforks at the notion of me saying something so batshit crazy….

* * * * *

by Charles Staley | August 28, 2014

Here's what you need to know...

  • Too often, we adopt practices like stretching, elaborate warm-ups and corrective work reflexively rather than strategically.
  • The Friction Principle states that whenever we dislike doing something, we're less likely to do it. If we dislike various "extra" work in the gym, like pre-hab, we may begin to dislike training itself.
  • The Suitcase Principle states that we only have so much room – time and resources – available. Don't spend all your gym resources on things you most likely don't need.
  • How flexible do you really need to be? How much endurance do you really need? We must ask these questions to better be able to plan our workouts and focus on the things that have the biggest impact.
I have a confession to make. Before I do, I'd just like to remind some of you that I've been coaching professional and Olympic athletes, teaching seminars around the world, and writing about fitness and strength training for over 30 years. In addition, I've been a competitive athlete the whole time, from martial arts and Olympic weightlifting to powerlifting. I've also been fortunate enough to pick the brains of many of the world's top coaches and athletes. So while what I'm about to share with you might strike you as unorthodox, I want you to know this isn't my first rodeo.

Now about that confession: I don't really warm-up. I don't stretch either. I don't do dynamic activation drills. I don't foam roll. I don't do corrective exercise or "pre-hab." I don't do conditioning work. Pretty much all I do is lift.

I'd like to make it clear that every item on that list can definitely be worthwhile for specific people in specific contexts. I just think that all these things are too often done reflexively rather than strategically. So I'd like to give you some insight on my decision making about what training activities I do, and don't do, and how and why I make these decisions. Then, you can think about these decisions and apply them – or not – to your own training.
* * * * *

by Tony Bonvechio | 08/27/14

Here's what you need to know...
  • Big triceps won't help you if you can't break through the sticking point off the chest. So stop it with the board press and floor press and work on your incline and overhead press.
  • Big traps and strong scapular retractors are more important than the lats for a solid bench press foundation and stable bar path.
  • The bench press is no more dangerous than any other barbell exercise and can be shoulder-friendly when done with good technique and common sense.
  • Great raw benchers press the bar in a J-curve, not a straight line, to maximize leverage.
The misinterpreted words of multi-ply powerlifters has trickled down to the masses. And now, raw (no bench shirt) lifters are experiencing undue suffering and frustration as a side effect.

Like a game of telephone, the truth has been lost as each piece of information is transferred from the mouths of giants to internet forums and gyms. Good advice from strong people gets twisted into something laughably false and useless.

If you've ever been wronged by bad bench press advice, I feel you. I've been there. After years of struggling to increase my bench press numbers despite following the dogmatic suggestions of the armies of keyboard warriors, I finally discovered the truth. The barbell is a great teaching tool, but it's easy to ignore its teachings if you get brainwashed by the propaganda.

In less than a year, I added 50 pounds to my competition bench press. What's my secret? I abandoned everything I'd learned about benching and listened to what the bar had been telling me for years. Here are four bench press myths I busted during my journey.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

'You're Not Alone': Dads Who Blog Redefine Modern Fatherhood

This article comes from NPR's Men in America series, which has been running throughout the summer.

'You're Not Alone': Dads Who Blog Redefine Modern Fatherhood

Brent Almond with his 4-year-old son, Jon. Almond began blogging several years ago to review kids' products, but soon found that he got more satisfaction from chronicling daily life as a father.
Brent Almond with his 4-year-old son, Jon. Almond began blogging several years ago to review kids' products, but soon found that he got more satisfaction from chronicling daily life as a father.Jennifer Ludden/NPR 
When graphic designer Brent Almond adopted a son a few years ago, he was struck — like so many new parents — by the steep learning curve, the sheer hard work of parenting and the overwhelming array of kiddie stuff he found himself having to buy.

So he launched a blog, Designer Daddy, to review products for their aesthetic value. But he soon found he got far more out of chronicling daily life as a father.

"It causes me to pause and think about things happening in my son's life and our life as parents and as a family," he says.

Almond is among hundreds of daddy bloggers who've taken to the Web in recent years — a logical outgrowth, perhaps, of the record number of stay-at-home and single fathers.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were 2 million stay-at-home dads in 2012, nearly double the number from 1989. And overall, the time fathers spend with their children has nearly tripled from a generation ago.

Many bloggers see their role as helping to define the modern dad. For Almond, that means challenging stereotypes not just of men, but also of gay men. He and his husband were the first same-sex couple to become parents in their social circle in Kensington, Md., but he's found a community of others online.

One of the first things he wrote about was the baby wipes he bought at Target, called Mom to Mom. "I'm like, 'Are we not allowed to use these?' " he says, laughing. "Did dads not ever use wipes?"

The social media conglomerate BlogHer recently honored Almond as a "Voice of the Year" for one of his posts. He wrote about being at the mall — disheveled, exhausted, chasing his toddler — when he ran into a young gay couple he knew. They were the guys his gay men's chorus had voted "cutest couple," well-dressed and heading to a play. Almond wondered, "Is Being a Dad Turning Me Straight?"
"Exhibit A: I no longer go to my gossipy, orgasmic shampoo-giving stylist. I now get my hair cut by an old, Greek barber within walking distance of my house."
He also wears the same gray T-shirts every day, lets his house get messy and, he writes, "Oh, the horror. Sometimes I leave the house wearing a black belt with brown shoes."

Any sleep-deprived mom with spit-up on her shirt can relate.

Beyond blogs, dads are also finding each other through a slew of daddy podcasts. Ryan E. Hamilton co-hosts the After Show podcast on Life of Dad. It brings on dad bloggers to talk about everything from sports to work-life balance to what is the appropriate age to let your child play the crazy popular video game Minecraft.

Oddly enough, Hamilton says half those who come to Life of Dad's podcasts and blogs are women.
"I get the sense that it's women kind of peeking through the peephole," he says. "You know, 'What's my husband going through that he's not quite opening up to me about?' "

Hamilton's opened up a lot, blogging about his struggles with divorce and depression and discovering he's not alone.

"And you're not alone in bigger and more grandiose ways than you ever thought," he says. "There've been complete strangers that have become probably some of my best friends, just by virtue of the fact that I've opened up and shared the good, bad and ugliest parts of my life."

"One thing I'm very proud of in the dad blogger community is that we really are supportive of each other," says Scott Behson, a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University who has his own blog, Fathers, Work, and Family.

Behson says the dad blogging community is diverse — across age, race, income — and fathers have largely avoided the stay-at-home vs. working parent drama of the mommy wars.

"Society puts so much pressure on women to be this 'ideal mother,' " he says, "that they feel really torn no matter what they do, that they're not doing it right. And I think society hasn't placed that on fathers, so maybe we have it easier in that regard."

Even so, Behson says fathers do face entrenched, negative stereotypes: deadbeat dad, part-time dad, bumbling dad. Two years ago, daddy bloggers took on a number of big-brand TV commercials that fostered such perceptions. Huggies diapers took the most heat for portraying dads as inept, and the company quickly pulled the ad and remade it.

This year, blogger Zach Rosenberg at 8BitDad screened 140 commercials, spoiling for a fight. "And then my results actually surprised me," he writes.

By and large, Rosenberg found this year's crop of commercial dads loving, respected and competent — just like dad bloggers have been saying they are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We Are All Sexters Now: America’s Favorite Amateur Porn

"All" is such an inclusive word. I suspect many of us are not part of this "all." But the numbers of people now sexting, and not just teens and young adults, has sky-rocketed.

To me, as an apparent middle aged man, this phenomenon feels like a sad commentary on our increasing isolation from each other as a result of technology. Although, to be fair, I am sure some people do this in responsible and safe ways.

We are all sexters now: America’s favorite amateur porn

Sexting nation, 78 million strong! How the scolds and moralists lost, and sexting became an all-American pastime

David Rosen
Saturday, Aug 16, 2014

(Credit: Ammentorp Photography via Shutterstock)

It was only a few years ago when scolds and the media made “sexting” a national concern. Congressmen were being outed for exposing themselves in revealing sexts; states across the country were passing laws making it a crime; hundreds of kids were being busted for doing it; and talk-show talking heads, along with religious leaders and other social worthies, were bemoaning the fate of American youth. Sexting was scary.

Today, sexting has all but disappeared from public discourse. Sure, occasional teen busts are reported, but they capture far less media attention. Why? What’s happened to make the hottest media story of a couple of years ago pretty much disappear from the public stage?

With rare exception, the popular media are driven by the crisis du jour: the latest body count report, natural disaster or political sex scandal. So, yesterday’s news is so yesterday.

But sexting is more than a media story; it is the first original form of pornography to emerge in the 21st century. Sexting may have disappeared from the public spotlight, but it has not disappeared from public life.

Sexting is an original form of do-it-yourself (DIY) or user-generated-content (UGC) media, amateur porn. It began as a subversive art, with young people taking, sending and receiving explicit nude, semi-nude and provocative still images, video clips and/or text messages of themselves and others via a smartphone or another mobile communication device.

Sexting is not child porn, or sexual bullying; for the most part, sexting is not a form of sexual exploitation, of violation. Rather, it is a postmodern aesthetic with roots reaching back to pre-modern forms of female representation, from the original 17th century “posture girl.” Between 10 and 20 percent of teens engage in sexting, but they are only the tip of an increasingly popular social phenomenon.

The outings of Congressmen Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Chris Lee, R-N.Y., in 2011 shifted the sexting storyline. It went from a tabloid tale of out-of-control teens, a 21st-century version of 1950s kids into obscene comic books or Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One,” to pathetic tales of male exhibitionists. Perhaps most alarming: recent disclosures about the UK spy program, “Optic Nerve,” which scooped up an untold number of sexually explicit images, proves again that sexting is widespread among American adults.

Sexting is going suburban and vanilla. Like “adult” pornography, it is being accepted as just one more of the “50 shades” of sexual titillation. Sexting scandals involving adults are regular occurrences and there’s even a website featuring the latest celebrity sexting scandal. Retina-X Studios, a company that sells online tracking tools, recently conducted a study of 4,800 respondents and found that the most sexting takes place on Tuesday morning, between 10 a.m. and noon – time when most teens are in school. It also found that iPhone users engaged in sexting almost twice as frequently as Android users.

The most revealing testimony to the mainstreaming of sexting was a recent Washington Post piece, “A guide to safe sexting: How to send nude photos without ruining your life, career and reputation.” Its warning to readers was simple: “Repeat after me: If you can’t prevent people from spreading your nudes, the next-best thing you can do is prevent them from ever knowing said nudes belong to you.”

The Post instructed readers to follow two essential rules for online posts. First: “Never include your face in the photo. Make the background nondescript. Cover or omit distinguishing features, like birthmarks and tattoos.” Second: “Anonymize the photo file itself. All photos, even ones taken on a smartphone or tablet, are embedded with information about how, when and where the photo was taken. This is called EXIF data, and you want to strip it from any photos you may need to deny ownership of in the future.” One can only wonder how many inside-the-Beltway players saved the article. Sexting has become an all-American form of self-expression.


No one knows how many Americans engage in sexting. However, recent surveys by McAfee and Pew suggest how sexting is going mainstream.

McAfee, the cyber security firm, released a study earlier this year of “more than 1,500 consumers” and found that more than half (54%) “send or receive intimate content including video, photos, emails and messages.” It found that one in three American adults have filmed sexual content on their mobile devices.

Digging deeper, McAfee reported that 70 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds receive sexually suggestive content and that (among those using mobile devices) more males than females do so (61% vs. 48%). It also found that 45 percent of adults stored the sexts they received while 40 percent stored the ones they sent. Among those who sent “intimate or racy content,” three-fourths (77%) sent it to their significant other, while only 1 in 10 sent such content to a total stranger.

Pew Research reported that “sexting … is practiced by couples and singles alike” and has nearly doubled since its last survey in 2012. The most active adults engaged in sexting were between 25 and 34 years of age. “Married and partnered adults are just as likely as those not in a relationship to say they have sent sexts,” the report noted, adding, “single adults are more likely to report receiving and forwarding such images or videos.” Pew’s research also found the following among adults: 20 percent of “cellphone” owners have received a sext of someone they know; 9 percent have sent a message of themselves to someone else; and 3 percent have forwarded a sext to someone else.

Approximately 145 million Americans own a “smartphone,” a 3G or 4G mobile device capable of image-based sexting. Extrapolating from this estimate, the McAfee report suggests that upwards of 78 million users have engaged in sexting. The Pew report suggests that some 30 million Americans have received a sext and about 13 million have sent one. The scope of sexting among Americans likely resides somewhere between the two estimates. Clearly, sexting is no longer simply a teen titillation.


Sexting emerged as a form of DIY or amateur pornography about a decade ago and originally subverted the dominant porn conventions in (for the most part) three ways. First, it involved teen makers and viewers, not adults (e.g., sex predators); second, it involved erotic display and not explicit sex acts (e.g., fellatio, intercourse); and third, it was a non-commercial form of enticements (i.e., not a product for sale). Sexting continues as a form of teen flirting, something essentially by and for young people and freely exchanged, a gift.

However, sexting seems to be increasingly adopted as part of the postmodern adult sex scene, and as it goes mainstream it is losing its critical edge. In the U.S., “noncommercial” sexual relations between consenting adults are not illegal. One can easily imagine sexts becoming the next intimate Valentine’s card or seductive private message, the latest personal turn-on. Who needs chocolates when one can send a sext?

Will sexting be integrated into the commercial sex industry? Sex is big business in the U.S., estimated at $50 billion in annual revenue. Prostitution, illegal in all but a handful of Nevada counties, pulls in an estimated $18 billion; the sex toy or “sexual wellness” sector is pegged at $15 billion; the 3,000 or so gentlemen’s clubs are reported to serve some 1.2 million (mostly male) customers a day and generate an estimated $3.1 billion to $7.5 billion in revenues. And this does not include the private “safe sex” clubs for gays and straights as well as specialized fetish clubs (e.g., BDSM) often hosted by a professional dominatrix, the gay bathhouses or other illicit “noncommercial” hookups easily arranged via voice calls, Internet sites and wireless app services.

The U.S. porn business is estimated at $10 billion-plus annually. According to one source, there are nearly 25 million porn sites worldwide, making up 12 percent of all websites. Sebastian Anthony, writing for ExtremeTech, reports that Xvideos is the biggest porn site on the Web, receiving 4.4 billion page views and 350 million unique visits per month. He claims porn accounts for 30 percent of all Web traffic. (In comparison, Wikipedia gets about 8 billion page views.) Anthony estimates the average length of time spent on Xvideo at 15 minutes. From an aesthetic perspective, he notes that, alas, most people receive their digital video feeds using low-resolution streaming.

Sex saturates the marketplace, whether promoting personal satisfaction or glamorizing a product, be it a new car or a mouthwash. Sexting illustrates the power of technological innovation and, sadly, of how a once-radical, DIY form of self-expression is being recuperated, integrated into the commercial economy. The marketplace has perfected the art of turning the most intimate human exchange into a commodity. The only unanswered question is what intimacy remains to be plundered?

More David Rosen.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

​Mind-Blowing Facts Men Don't Know About Women Is Blowing My Mind (from Jezebel)

It's interesting to me what men and women do not know about each other's private bits - and how many things get passed on as truth that have little or no basis in reality. Perhaps high school sex ed should have a little more show-and-tell.

This amusing article is by Tracy Moore at Jezebel.

​Mind-Blowing Facts Men Don't Know About Women Is Blowing My Mind

​Mind-Blowing Facts Men Don't Know About Women Is Blowing My Mind

While it's safe to say we should all have a working knowledge of how the human body works, it's also quite obvious that definitions of what constitutes common knowledge vary widely, and nowhere is this often truer than when it comes to what we know about the opposite sex, and vice versa.

In a list over a Frisky, author Rebecca Vipond Brink recounts a list of "mind-blowing" facts that men allegedly don't understand or misunderstand about women. Some of them are highly dubious to me, unless we are talking about teenage boys who have about as much knowledge of women as they do mixing a proper cocktail. Here are a few examples from her list: 

We have hair all over our bodies.

Brink writes:
Yeah, even on our faces! Crazy, right? I like to think that there's a difference between the hair that grows on a woman's face/all over her body and a mustache and beard, but several guys have made it clear to me that they don't believe that to be true.
For anyone still unclear: Yes, women can grow hair all over their bodies, including their faces. Perhaps because we've been removing it for hundreds of years, it has erroneously created the impression that we are naturally hairless, but we are not. Moving on.

Crotches that smell like perfume only exist in fiction.

Brink wants you to know that vaginas smell like a lot of different stuff: fish, "rank biscuits" if you have a yeast infection. And:
On a good day they smell like … I don't know, salty, ripe fruit? It's never exactly a great smell that you'd want wafting off of your body so that people 20 feet away can smell it (or maybe you do because that's your thing! Respect). Balls stink too, know that.
Dude, don't I know it, re: balls. And while it's also hard to accept that any grown hetero man doesn't know vaginas can smell a lot of ways, or that they smell at all, and that the smell is not naturally one of bouquet-of-flowers-on-rain-swept-misty-morn, let's accept it and go so far as to expound a bit: Vaginas do smell, and they are supposed to, and that's not bad! From a great post on BlogHer by gynecologist Lissa Rankin talkin' 'bout a woman's own special "V-pourri," we learn:
So how is the vagina supposed to smell? It depends. When you're straight out of the shower, your coochie may have no smell at all. When you've just finished running a marathon, it may have a strong musky odor from all the sweat glands. When you're menstruating or giving birth, the flinty-iron smell of blood prevails. When yeast overgrows in the vagina, you may smell like freshly baked-bread or a good malt beer. Right after you've had intercourse, you may smell faintly bleach-like, as semen has a classic odor of its own. And when certain normal bacteria overgrow, they release amines that smell — yup, you guessed it — like fish.
Every vagina has its own special smell — a combination of the normal bacteria that live in your vagina, what you eat, how you dress, your level of hygiene, your bowel habits, how much you sweat, and what your glands secrete. Remember that the glands near the vagina also secrete pheromones, meant to attract a sexual partner. So you don't want to deodorize your va-jay-jay so much that it smells like rain. Doing so thwarts the primal function of what your smell is supposed to accomplish. Plus, it interferes with the vagina's natural pH balance and can lead to a whole host of gynecological conditions.
So own your odor, girlfriends.
What's really fishy, though, is this next item from The Frisky post:

Tampons are not sexually satisfying (to most of us, anyway).

Ok, really? Someone had to be told this? I guess there's always someone who doesn't know about something we consider to be common knowledge — see any episode of Jay Leno's Tonight Show segment Jaywalk for endless examples, or any of those reddit posts on stuff doctors had to explain to patients about how anatomy works. But tampons? Sexual? And to be fair, I mean, sure, if don't have a vagina and therefore haven't put a tamp in it, and you also only think of a woman's vagina as a dick-holder, than I guess you would think anything vaguely dick-shaped going in said vagina would be a turn-on. Only it's not. Duh, there's perfunctory aspects of the vagina for the release of menstrual blood and offspring, so assuming all activity near the vagina is only sex-like would be like women assuming every time a man takes a piss, he gets turned on (I realize a man can have a boner while needing to pee). 

You are capable of having cellulite, too.

A'ight, I have to admit I'd literally never thought about men having cellulite, and reading this made me realize that I'd never seen it on a man, either. Brink's post says It's just easier to cover up because it tends to be on your stomach, not your legs.

I Googled a bit further and found a post from Len Kravitz, PhD, explaining that men can get cellulite, but that "90 – 98% of cases occur in women."
The reason cellulite is rarely seen in men (obese and non-obese) is because the epidermis, dermis and uppermost part of the subcutaneous tissue is different in males. Men have thicker epidermis and dermis tissue layers in the thighs and buttocks. More distinctively dissimilar, the first layer of fat, which is slightly thinner in men, is assembled into polygonal units separated by crisscrossing connective tissue (See below).
The differences in subcutaneous fat cell structure in men and women occur during the third trimester of fetus development and are manifested at birth. Variations in hormones between genders largely explain this skin structure deviation. It has been shown that men who are born deficient in male hormones will often have a subcutaneous fat appearance similar to females.
Vaginas don't get "stretched out" from sex.

We've discussed this hotdog-in-a-hallway myth before. In a nutshell: You can't fuck yourself loose, but over time, elasticity changes from aging, not fuckin', got it?

Also I would like to add this one:

Men and women both have smegma.

Jezebel scribe Mark Shrayber didn't know until recently that smegma was not just a dude's dick thing, but a male and female genitals thing. (YOU'RE WELCOME, MARK).

To turn the tables for equality, I'm sure there's dumb stuff I have thought about how dude's parts work, like I don't know really anything about balls, so I'm always wondering if guys dip their balls into various substances, and which one is best? Like, room-temp queso, maybe? And if you don't do that, why in the fuck not?

P.S. My friend wants to know if dudes getting kicked in the balls feels just like really really bad period cramps or what. 

Also boners? Like, WTF does a boner actually feel like? Discuss.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Neglected Boys May Turn into Violent Adolescents

Among all of the ways children can suffer in childhood, neglect is turning out to be equally as traumatic as physical and/or sexual abuse. To better understand how destructive neglect can be (and we are not talking only about lack of food, clothing, or shelter), here is some material from Bruce Perry, one of leaders in the study of how adversity challenges the developing brain in children.
The Neurodevelopmental Impact of Neglect in Childhood

Neglect is the absence of critical organizing experiences at key times during development. Despite its obvious importance in understanding child maltreatment, neglect has been understudied. Indeed, deprivation of critical experiences during development may be the most destructive yet the least understood area of child maltreatment. There are several reasons for this. The most obvious is that neglect is difficult to “see.” Unlike a broken bone, maldevelopment of neural systems mediating empathy, for example, resulting from emotional neglect during infancy is not readily observable.


[W]hat we do know about neglect during early childhood supports a neuroarcheological view of adverse childhood experience. The earlier and more pervasive the neglect is, the more devastating the developmental problems for the child. Indeed, chaotic, inattentive and ignorant caregiving can produce pervasive developmental delay (PDD; DSM IV-R) in a young child (Rutter et al., 1999). Yet the very same inattention for the same duration if the child is ten will have very different and less severe impact than inattention during the first years of life. (Perry, 2002, p. 88-89)
This new research suggests that neglected boys are more likely to display violence as adolescents, which makes perfect in that neglect can severely compromise affect regulation, allowing anger to escalate to violence very easily.

Here is a brief definition of affect regulation:
AFFECT is the behavioral expression of emotion and affect regulation is a set of processes individuals use to manage emotions and their expression to accomplish goals. However, structures involved in affect regulation are among the last to mature in the developing brain; therefore, many adolescents may not be adequately equipped to regulate their affect. Consequently, adolescents are at increased risk of adverse health outcomes associated with poor affect regulation. (Bell & McBride, 2010)
That should be enough foundation to contextualize this article (press release, actually).

Neglected boys may turn into violent adolescents

August 18, 2014
Written by Matt Swayne
Source: Penn State
Parents who physically neglect their boys may increase the risk that they will raise violent adolescents, according to sociologists. Examples of physical neglect include not taking a sick or injured child to the doctor, improperly clothing a child and not feeding a child, according to the researchers. While physical abuse is a significant contributor to violent behavior, physical neglect alone is an even stronger predictor of male adolescent violence than physical abuse, they noted.

Parents who physically neglect their boys may increase the risk that they will raise violent adolescents, according to Penn State sociologists.

In a study of currently incarcerated male adolescents, physical neglect during childhood arose as the strongest predictor of violent behavior, said William McGuigan, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Shenango. Researchers are just beginning to acknowledge the powerful role of neglect in influencing adolescent violence, he added.

"One of the problems with studying neglect is that it is an act of omission, rather than one of commission. In other words, it is characterized as the absence of an act, rather than an actual act of mistreatment," said McGuigan. "However, now we have better measures and larger databases to document neglect."

Examples of physical neglect include not taking a sick or injured child to the doctor, improperly clothing a child and not feeding a child, according to the researchers who will present their findings today (Aug. 18) at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.

The study indicated that while physical abuse is a significant contributor to violent behavior, physical neglect alone is an even stronger predictor of male adolescent violence than physical abuse, or even physical abuse and neglect combined.

"It sounds somewhat contrarian, but the physical abuse might at least show that parents are paying some type of attention to the child," said McGuigan, who worked with Roxanne Atterholt, instructor, and Jack A. Luchette, an undergraduate student, both in in human development and family studies at Penn State Shenango.

McGuigan said that understanding how neglect can influence violent behavior in adolescent males may lead to better education for caregivers and better care for at-risk youths.

"We have to look more into neglect and become more aware of how it may cause some of these violent behaviors," said McGuigan. "From that, we can build early preventative care programs than can help avoid these negative outcomes."

The research could also create assessments that, for example, might help protect people who care for adolescents by identifying youths who are more prone to violence.

The researchers analyzed data taken from a survey of 85 subjects, who are residents of a Pennsylvania detention center for delinquent males. In the survey, 25 of the participants, or 29.4 percent of the group, said that they experienced at least one incidence of childhood neglect. Acts of violence included fighting with students or parents, hitting teachers or instructors and using a weapon to scare, rob or injure another person.

Sexual abuse was not included in the survey. Only two subjects responded that they were sexually abused in the survey, which was not enough to provide conclusive findings, McGuigan said.

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. The original article was written by Matt Swayne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News You Can Use

Another Fitness Friday to read while you should be working. This week:
  • Zach Even-Esh interviews Chad Waterbury
  • A cool 2 exercise, 4 set strength and muscle program
  • How to do myofascial release on yourself
  • 9 tips for lifters from Dan John
  • Eric Cressey on bear crawl vs. crab walk
  • Excellent lower body kettlebell exercises from Mike Boyle
First up, from Zach Even-Esh, an interview with strength and fitness coach Chad Waterbury, one of the really smart guys in this field.

STRONG Life 31: Chad Waterbury and Bodyweight Volume Training


Chad Waterbury and I “met” about 12 years ago through the interwebs. Back then he had long flowing locks and wrote for T Nation on the regular while I was testing his encouragement of following his popular program of 10 sets of 3 reps.

In 12 years, a LOT can change.

Since then Chad has been living in Santa Monica, Ca. He has immersed himself in bodyweight training by getting coaching from a Russian Gymnastics Olympic Coach, is about to embark on his PhD journey and he no longer has the hair of The Mighty Thor.

In this episode of The STRONG Life Podcast we don’t discuss hair, sorry to disappoint.

Chad Waterbury and I discuss the power of bodyweight exercise and how you should be using bodyweight training to add muscle with out spending excess time in the gym. In addition to training, we also discuss life and what it takes to achieve those lofty goals you have running through your head, likely collecting “dust”.
- How does Chad organize each training session from the warm up to the workout?
- Do his workouts change when working with someone who wants greater fitness vs training a pro MMA fighter?
- Why doesn’t Chad go to the gym anymore?
- What was the BIG takeaway Chad picked up while working with a Russian Olympic Gymnastics Coach?
- Everyone says they want to “live the dream”. Chad packed up and moved to Santa Monica and is living his dreams. It wasn’t easy, so listen to his advice for you…..

* * * * *

A few pieces from T-Nation:

Primer 4: Big, Bad, Basic Workouts 

by Paul Carter | 8.22.2014 

Here's what you need to know...
  • Everyone knows what a single, double, or triple is, but when it gets to "four," people suddenly develop weight training amnesia.
  • You can build a solid foundation of strength and mass with a program based around sets of four. And it only requires four days a week of training.
  • One of the biggest reasons people get stuck in a training rut is because they start implementing more exercises and more set and rep schemes. Their training starts to resemble that of a buffet more than a basic meal of steak and potatoes.
  • Any time you find yourself frustrated by a plateau, the best thing you can do is eliminate all of the BS you've been doing and reel it back into simplicity. That's where the Primer 4 Program comes in.
The number four is the lonely, bastard child of the strength rep scheme. Everyone knows what a single, double, or triple is, but when it gets to "four" people suddenly develop weight training amnesia.

No one talks about their best "quad" rep set. They skip right over ugly number four and talk about "fives" like four never even existed. Why that is, I don't know. John Kuc, the first man to squat 900 pounds and who deadlifted a ridiculous 870 at a bodyweight of 242 pounds, did lots of sets of four in his training. Shieko, the Russian powerlifting system that's produced solid lifters, also uses sets of four throughout the programming.

So let's clear the air here. Four is not an ugly number for strength training. It's more or less the intellectual hot sister that never gets a date because she's misunderstood and doesn't get used up like her slutty sisters, the triple and "fives." The point is, sets of four have merit and you can build a solid foundation of strength and mass with a program based around them. The way we're going to use sets of four in my "Primer 4" program is to "prime" you for the last set of four in the volume sequence.

* * * * *

Do-It-Yourself Myofascial Release 

by John Rusin | 08/20/14 
Here's what you need to know...
  • Why are we still treating our soft tissues with techniques and implements that are decades old? You are better than your foam roller.
  • For every deadlift session, do one session of soft tissue work to counteract the damage. Every time you hit up the bench, perform two concentrated sessions of soft tissue work. Don't worry, you can do it watching TV. And it's free.
  • Just as the tennis ball provides a smaller surface area as compared to the foam roller, your fingertips provide an even more acute area with which to exert forces into your tissues. This high level of proprioception allows you to distinguish how painful trigger points feel, along with the tissue's texture and tone.
  • With only your hands and the ability to optimally position your body for force and leverage, your shoulders can be bullet-proofed by tacking on as little as 5 minutes to the end of your training.
The foam roller has become one of the most notorious time wasters in any type of training center. The tennis ball kept us sane for a while, but that too has left us less than ecstatic every time we wedge it under our shoulder blades. With all the advancements in our industry, why are we still treating our soft tissues with techniques and tools that are decades old?

* * * * *

9 Tips for Dedicated Lifters 

by Dan John | 08/19/14 

Here's what you need to know...
  • The only real secret to adding muscle to your whole body is this: do high rep squats.
  • If you can perfectly follow all those fancy lifting tempo recommendations, you just aren't lifting enough.
  • Conditioning has value, but if you're doing a bunch of junk for no rhyme or reason, cut it back or cut it out.
  • If you can't pull double bodyweight off the ground, press bodyweight overhead, and carry bodyweight for about 100 yards, work on that stuff first.
  • Sometimes the best way to get better is to take some time off. Do it before your body forces you to do it.
  • Every workout should build, in some way, upon the previous session. If you keep leaping from idiotic program to idiotic program, you might never learn this lesson.
I started lifting in 1965. I've been employed as a strength coach since 1979. I've seen a lot come and go, but I'm fairly confident that the following nine tips will still be around fifty years from now.
* * * * *

Here is a brief but useful article from Eric Cressey.

Bear Crawls vs. Crab Walks

Written on August 19, 2014, by Eric Cressey

Yesterday, I posted on Twitter that I was a big fan of bear crawls because they get you great serratus anterior recruitment, more scapular upward rotation, improved anterior core function, tri-planar stability, and some awesome reciprocal arm/leg activity. They're one of my favorite warm-up and end-of-workout low-level core activation drills.

For some reason, though, every time you mention bear crawls, someone asks about crab walks. Candidly, I don't think so highly of crab walks. In fact, I have never used them - and that's why I didn't have a video on hand of them.

* * * * *

Finally, here is Michael Boyle on kettlebells for the lower body.

Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: The Best Lower-Body Kettlebell Exercises

August 4, 2014

In this episode of STACK Elite Performance, Mike Boyle demonstrates the four best lower-body kettlebell exercises for athletes.

Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: The Best Lower-Body Kettlebell Exercises 

In this episode of STACK Elite Performance, Mike Boyle shows you how to perform four lower-body kettlebell exercises, which he explains are ordered in increasing difficulty, so you can easily progress through each variation as your strength and technique improve.  

Coaching Points Kettlebell 
  • Goblet Squat - Hold the kettlebell in front of your chest. - Lower until your elbows touch your knees.  
  • Single-Arm Goblet Squat - Hold the kettlebell in the rack position. - Keep your core tight to prevent upper-body rotation.  
  • Double-Kettlebell Front Squat - Hold two kettlebells in the rack position.  
  • Single-Leg, Straight-Leg Deadlift - Maintain a 10-degree knee bend. - Pull your shoulders down and back. 
  • Sets/Reps: 3 x 5-10 each variation 
Click here to see more Elite Performance tips with Mike Boyle.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Only Soldiers Understand (On Youth and Male Friendship)

Sebastian Junger has a new film about the same group of soldiers he followed in the award-winning documentary, Restrepo. It's not really sequel, however, even though it uses the same cache of interviews he drew from in the last film. Korengal, which takes its name from the Korengal Valley in northeastern Afghanistan where he followed the 15-month tour of the platoon in 2010, is more a story about male bonding among young men. There was some of that theme in Restrepo, but here it is the focus of the film. Sounds promising - I look forward to seeing it.

What Only Soldiers Understand

Christopher de Bellaigue
August 20, 2014

Outpost Films A soldier on patrol in Sebastian Junger’s Korengal

The acclaimed documentary Restrepo, which was made in 2010 by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, followed a platoon of US soldiers during their fifteen-month tour of duty in the Korengal Valley in northeastern Afghanistan. Released during President Obama’s Afghan “surge,” when there were some 30,000 US troops deployed in the country, the film took its name from Private First Class Juan Sebastián Restrepo, who was killed by the Taliban and immortalized in the name of an American observation post — “OP Restrepo.” The film began with a Taliban ambush and featured explosions, grueling patrols, and the slam of bullets into wood, earth, and metal. Restrepo conveyed with a relentless, almost monotonous immediacy the experience of combat — and this for an audience that was, in every sense, thousands of miles away.

Korengal is a new film that follows the same soldiers over the same period of time and draws from the same corpus of footage and interviews. But Korengal, while clearly related to Restrepo, cannot be considered its sequel; it might be misleading even to call it a war film. The film contains allusions to the death of PFC Restrepo, but the viewer is more aware of a second casualty, whose voice can occasionally be heard from behind the camera. By the time Sebastian Junger came to gather his material into Korengal, his confrere Tim Hetherington had been killed (while following another war, this one in Libya) and the US was preparing to pull out of Afghanistan. To some degree, the film is Hetherington’s memorial.

Korengal’s subjects are youth and male friendship, and it deals in a peculiarly profound way with the unsettling sense that a young warrior experiences, after fighting alongside his brothers-in-arms, that he knows all the joy and agony that life can offer. “I’d rather be there than here,” says one of the film’s unsuspecting heroes, the elfin, soft-spoken Misha Pemble-Belkin, after his tour has finished; “I’d go back right now if I could.” His nostalgia is echoed by others who spent their entire deployments despising their surroundings and longing for home, and insights of this kind into human frailty and illogic lift Korengal into a rare category of achievement.

Junger is outstanding at evoking the diabolical thrill of battle. “Until you hear the snap of a bullet go by your head” — and here Specialist Kyle Steiner, another of the film’s stars, permits himself a knowing, almost superior smile –- “there’s nothing else like it.” The film’s pivotal scene is a single firefight built into a mesmerizing homage to combat, complete with thumping, cod-Irish score and whoops of bloodlust. “I’m on fucking fire!” someone yells amid the mayhem. We all are, and we can be pretty sure the Taliban shooting back feel the same way — only their shouts are a little different, more in the line of, Allahu Akbar.

After the high of engagement comes the low of enforced inaction, boredom, and jangling nerves. Some of these men only recently grew into their bodies, and they hardly know what to do with themselves. They wrestle like lion cubs, play video games, mistreat a guitar, and conduct inane conversations (would George Clooney beat Fabio in a fight?). And, like generations of soldiers before them, they smoke.

There is an affecting scene when one of the soldiers confesses that he is afraid that God hates him because he has committed sins while in battle. But Korengal does not mention religious faith as a possible psychological buttress , and whether this reflects the predilections of the filmmakers or the skepticism of the men is not clear. If the answer is the latter, then a want of belief may be one of the few things that distinguish the men of Second Platoon, Battle Company from their predecessors in war. Given the psychological damage to which many of them confess, it may not be a good thing.

More than the deaths, lost limbs, and broken ankles (plenty in the scree-covered mountainsides) that punctuate the deployment, it’s this vulnerability that interests Junger and Hetherington. In Specialist Miguel Cortez they have a perfect case to study. Cortez is the kind of man whose cracks show through his too-ready smile, and whose eyes flee when he thinks dark thoughts. As the deployment wears on it’s Cortez who begins to court death, and who has to be told by his comrades that by endangering himself he is endangering them. And it’s this same, magnificent Cortez who wins a Bronze Star Medal for valor, and who says (again with that disarming smile), “I would actually throw myself on a grenade [for them], and the guys know that I would, without hesitation.”

Complexities of this kind are the stock-in-trade of Korengal — the product of a close, compassionate interest by Hetherington and Junger in the soldiers around them. There is a fascinating diversion into the racial bafflements of Specialist Sterling Jones, for instance. He is one of the few black men in the whole company — because, as he says sardonically, “black people don’t jump out of planes.” Jones believes he is disliked by his white comrades, which makes his motivations for fighting all the more surprising. “I’m not doing this for recognition from my country,” he says. “Truthfully, I could give a shit what anybody thinks — except for those guys to my left and my right, because that’s what it’s about…that’s why in a deployment you see people run out under fire to go pull their buddy back.”

The irony about Jones is that his mother had urged him to join the army, and he had protested. Pemble-Belkin is the opposite. His parents were Oregon hippies who disapproved of him playing soldiers. Now he smiles angelically and asks, “What’s not to like about a giant machine gun?”

A second telling absence in Korengal is politics. Officers and NCOs dutifully repeat the message of bringing civilization to a benighted people, but for the rest the war seems almost like a sealed exercise, justified in personal, rather than patriotic terms. They certainly feel no sympathy for the locals, and why should they? As Steiner puts it,
Hearts and minds is out the window when you see the guy shooting at you and then he puts his wife and kids in front of him knowing full well that we won’t shoot back. Or the guy who shakes our hand, takes the ten bags of rice we give him for his family and the school supplies…and immediately walks up the mountain and shoots an RPG at us, and walks back down and smiles the next morning when he’s walking his goats…

Fuck his heart. Fuck his mind.
It is a remarkable commentary on modern warfare waged by a democracy that a film like Korengal can be made, with the full cooperation of the US military, and without anyone getting into trouble for an excess of candor.

Later on, after the deployment, Steiner is under pressure from his family and his girlfriend. He is back home, but it seems that he is not fully present. “You’ll never understand,” is his somewhat tetchy response. “It’s not your position to understand.” Steiner wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the helmet that protected his head from a Taliban round. He is the kind of man who would cross the country to help a former comrade change a tire –- “in a heartbeat.” Now he delivers himself of an aphorism that expresses his feelings brutally: “You may have your family’s blood running through your veins. You didn’t shed it with them.”

Even for the survivors, war is a kind of death.