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15 Signs You’re An Adult

I am 35 years old. That means I am an adult. Big deal, you’re probably thinking, that happened 17 years ago when the law told me that I was an adult. Well, yes, but the realisation has been more of a slowburn.

This post has been inspired by Taryn Southern’s video of the same name, included below. So here are the 15 moments I gradually realised I wasn’t in high school any more, in no particular order.

1. Finding the women in furniture adverts are actually quite sexy.

2. Finding fhe furniture in furniture ads are also quite sexy.

3. Start to get drunk after only two pints.

4. Hungover the next day after only two pints.

5. Partly dreading your sister’s wedding because you know evergone will ask when you are getting married.

6. The ages of people getting married are not only the same as yours but have also carried on falling.

7. Internet dating and arranged marriage make sense.

8. Realising you haven’t watched much TV lately and not caring.

9. Having civilised conversations with your parents and, shock horror, laughing at their jokes.

10. The world did not end aged 29.

11. Sometimes agreeing with the Conservatives. Sometimes.

12. Realising you are more conservative and that revolution is not necessarily the best option.

13. Sexual fantasies end up in marriage; white wedding dress replaces black leather outfit, but you still say “I do” to the dominatrix.

14. Getting turned on by a hot property opportunity.

15. Finding that the best feeling in the world is being able to pass on what you have learnt to the younger generation, e.g. teaching.

So, on the whole, becoming an adult is not a bad thing. But I still have some way to go.

How much do you love your phone?

Girl playing with mobile phone

How do you relate your mobile phone?

I’ve just come out of a 13-year relationship…with a mobile phone operator. We had good times together but in the end she just couldn’t satisfy me completely.

I’m not quite sure how it started. There I was, just living my life. I wasn’t really looking for a mobile phone, when my parents introduced me to one in 1999. Everyone else was pairing off with mobile phones and asking me why I didn’t have one. I kept saying that I was happy as I was, I couldn’t really see the point, telephone boxes on the street were enough for my needs. Really, I just didn’t think I could afford to keep one, they seemed pretty high-maintenance. But, yeah, I did look on lustfully whenever I saw someone with a mobile phone.  So when I was offered one on a plate, I couldn’t say no.

Our relationship was pretty casual for a long time. We went when on dates on a pay-as-you-go basis and I used the phone sparingly, mainly just to ring to say I’ll be late or to confirm meeting or text. I remember that she was pretty in the beginning – not ugly, but not totally hot, but she looked fine to me. She had a number of plastic surgeries for my sake and I was always happy with the result. After a while, others started commenting that she was a bit chunky but I didn’t care.

It was only perhaps in the last couple of years that our relationship became more serious. We went from simply dating on a pay-as-you-go basis to a more long term contract that required regular investment. It was then that she really began to satisfy me with mobile internet access. We spent a lot of time together. I no longer had to wait to get a desktop PC to check my emails or tweet, she let me do it any time, any place.

But it was in the last couple of years that I noticed how chunky she was. It was so embarrassing being with her, when everyone else had slimmer, younger smarter models. Plus, she ran out of energy pretty quickly. So my eye started to wonder. I wanted a slimmer, younger, smarter model too. Unfortunately, I could not find one that was within my budget. So I reluctantly stuck with my existing phone, although of course I told everyone else that we were very happy.

Until last week. I finally found a slimmer, younger, smarter model that I could afford. It was love (or lust) at first sight. I reckon she could satisfy me more than my existing phone and she’s within my budget. I’m just worried that I will not be able to live up to her expectations. But after 13 years, it was not easy breaking up with who is now my previous network operator. I told her I wanted to go. She begged me to stay. She asked me what I wanted. She said she could change. We had a long conversation. But it was already too late, I had made up my mind to go and I was no longer in love with her. But it was still a bit painful.

Anyway, she is my ex-mobile phone operator now. We no longer have a relationship. Sort of. I still need to shift my contacts but keep putting it off.

Yes, Yes, Oh God, Yes

Sex

Having an orgasm leads to an altered state of consciousness. This will probably not come as much as a surprise if you have had sex or masturbated to the point of ejaculation. But, just so you know, your suspicions have been confirmed by new scientific research, according to an article by Kayt Sukel in the New Scientist. What is interesting is what neuroscience tells us about the parts of the brain that are involved in sex and orgasms.

The neuroscientific research shows that it is the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain for “aspects of consciousness such as self-evaluation and considering something from another person’s perspective” that is active at the time of orgasm following self-stimulation masturbation. However, it also showed that a specific part of the prefrontal cortex, the left orbitofrontal cortex, appeared to switch off when orgasm followed partner-stimulated masturbation.

The pre-frontal cortex happens to be the part of the brain responsible for self-control, organisation of thoughts, creation of narrative and ultimately finding a reason or purpose for things. The researchers, Barry Komisaruk (Rutgers University, US) and Janniko Georgiadis (University of Groningen, The Netherlands) surmised that self-stimulation required greater mental effort to create a fantasy or image to take the place of a partner, whose presence would make it easier to let go. If someone else is stimulating us, there’s not that much we need to do. So a part of the prefrontal cortex turns off – the altered state of consciousness. This is perhaps why the ‘Yes, Yes, Oh God, Yes’ moment is more pronounced during sex. But I think that that expression is more than a figure of speech in the throes of passion.

But if the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that creates purpose and organisation, then atheists will say that God is simply notion of the prefrontal cortex. I don’t think this disproves the existence of God. On the contrary, if there is an external God and he does communicate with us directly, He is most likely to communicate with us through the prefrontal cortex. That is how he would relate to us.

I can’t speak for other faiths out of ignorance, but Christianity is meant to be about how God wants to have a relationship with us. In the Bible, this relationship is often described metaphorically as the marriage between a bride and bridegroom. Perhaps this isn’t as metaphorical as we might think. Perhaps the orgasm we get from sex is meant to be God’s way of giving us a temporary experience of what it’s like to be in an (eternal) relationship with Him in Heaven. He’s telling us, ‘If you like sex and orgasm, then you are going to love being with me’.

Obviously the above research is not conclusive but Komisaruk and Georgiadis suggested that there are many valid reasons why we don’t have orgasms during sex but ultimately it’s down to not letting go and giving up control to let someone else pleasure and satisfy us. In the same way, the only way that we can experience this erotic relationship with God is if we completely submit to Him and let Him pleasure and satisfy us. Perhaps in heaven, our left orbitofrontal cortex will be completely turned off and we will be in constant state of sexual orgasm. (Perhaps the experience of the Fall described in Genesis, when we are supposed to have turned our backs on God, is when the left orbitofrontal cortex became switched on. Maybe that’s why the whole of humanity became infected with ‘sin'; there was actually a physiological change in our thinking.) Orgasm following from masturbation, on the other hand, does point to this relationship but is only a shadow because we are still in control.

Apparently, it’s also possible for women and children to have orgasms while being raped or abused. Now, rape and sexual abuse is a horrible act so this understandably creates confusion. I’m not expert so this paragraph should be taken with a pinch of salt. But perhaps the victim, either consciously or subconsciously, gets to the point where they realise that the abuser is going to do it to them whether they resist or not. So they just wait for it be over, essentially giving up.

This blog post does raise an interesting issue about certain controversial narratives about Jesus, such as in The Last Temptation of Christ or the Da Vinci Code. Though this is not in the Bible, Mary Magdalene has historically been portrayed the physical lover of Christ. Christians have traditionally rejected this but in light of the above research I wonder whether, actually, the Mary Magdalene-as-lover narrative is just another way of talking about being in relationship with God. Mary gave herself, submitted herself, completely to Christ (God) and allowed him to satisfy her. (I am not suggesting that she actually did have sex with him. But, when one thinks of the Hegelian dialectic between contradictory ideas, perhaps that’s what we have here.) Theresa of Avila has described a perfect union with God as ‘devotion of ecstasy’.

Indeed, the whole Christian faith is based on a sexual act – the Holy Spirit of God coming into Jesus’ mother Mary. Mary entered that altered state of consciousness, she went to Heaven and back. In John’s gospel, the writer always describes himself the ‘disciple that Jesus loved’. Luke’s gospel and his Acts of the Apostles is written in the form of a letter from the writer to Theophilius, which is Greek for ‘lover of God’. There’s even a whole book in the Bible, The Song of Songs, which is erotic love song between newlyweds and is also taken to be an allegory for the divine relationship between us and God.

Right, I’m off to my room to pray…

 

 

Not A PhD Thesis Review of 2011 – Part 1

It’s that time of year when the media is full of reviews of the year, looking back at what made the news in 2011. It certainly cannot be disputed that 2011 was definitely a very interesting year. So, in the current zeitgeist, I have decided to offer my own review, the first part of which is a run down of my ten most popular blog posts.

The Arab Spring makes an appearance at number 10, with Revolting Arabs good for the environment, commenting on government ministerial suggestions that the protests in the Middle East could help to tackle climate change.

One of the things I have enjoyed about this year is procrastinating on YouTube. Bizarrely, at number 9, is a post on my favourite and most inspirational YouTube video, of a Coca Cola ad to the theme tune of “Whatever” by Oasis showing how for all the bad in the world, there is much to be hopeful for.

At number 8, ‘Just because it’s traditional, doesn’t mean you have to follow it‘, a post on irrationality of ritual, with specific reference to the Tamil coming of age ceremony for girls. In essence I argued that maybe some of the traditional ideas about women and sex in Asian culture was a factor in a large number of Asian men being arrested and prosecuted for grooming and abusing white girls.

At number 7 is a compilation post featuring a number of sites of interest to single people on Valentine’s Day.

I have been influenced quite a bit by conversations with people on Twitter and the post at number 6, From Tweet to Thesis, was, if you like, a crowdsourcing for feedback on a conference that brought together academia and Twitter. While the feedback was positive, I have gone down a different route by starting a blog for own personal research project into the origins of phd topics from a tweet in the imagination.

At number 5, my redefinition of ‘ecoterrorism’, based on a summary of my reading of German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk and in particular his essay ‘Airquakes’ on how an attack against the environment hurts us.

And so, what were my top four most popular blog posts?

One of the most popular keyword searches was ‘real life incest’, which perhaps gives an indication as to the sort of people who visit my blog. As a result, at number four, is ‘From adoption to incest‘, triggered by a chat show episode on real life incest, which made wonder about the legitimacy of adoption as a child protection measure.

At number 3, I was surprised to see a lot of people interested in Chinese Walls.  It was not about China but about the fear of a conflict of interests resulting from proposed NHS reforms.

At number 2, Bin Laden proved to be very popular this year, with a lot of people interested in my blog post on his death at the hands of US special forces. I question whether it was such a good idea to kill him instead of putting him on trial.

Which brings me to my most popular blog post? Maybe it was the ‘Royal Wedding’ effect but I found that a link to the Royal Family is always a good way to drive traffic to your site. At number 1, I wrote about the title of the Duchy of Cambridge and why this might not have been the best wedding present for the Queen to give to William and Kate.

The second part of my Review of 2011, focusing on what I saw as the most important moments of the year, will be posted tomorrow.

A Love Letter to God

Dear God,

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a Christian.

That is, sometimes I wish you hadn’t saved me. But before you get angry and rip up this letter, please read on.

It can be frustrating, Lord, having to say no to things that displease you, when every bone and organ in my body, that you created by the way, is screaming yes. It’s not just because I like the idea of abstract rebellion; it’s because a lot of these things I did before I met you, in my pre-Christian days. I didn’t do them because they made me feel bad; as you know, I received a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction from them. It’s not easy resisting that which I know from experience actually does taste good.

But it’s not just the way they make me feel. It’s also their prevalence. It’s like being in Brick Lane, London, and deciding that I don’t want to eat Indian food.

For example, Lord, I get why you would like me to be chaste until marriage and I get why you’re not happy with adultery, but why then give me such strong sexual urges and make me wait? It seems a bit sadistic. Everything comes from you, so I know you have a well-designed woman somewhere in your sack. I’m not fussy Lord and anyway, you’re a great designer so everything you make looks good.

Ok, so you want me to wait, but would it really be a problem to provide an alternative solution. After all, even vegetarians can have substitutes for meat, like Quorn. Please give me a break, Lord!

I know you want to me focus on my relationship with you, but even though I’m doing a phd, my mind is still too small to grasp you in your entirely and what having a relationship with you means. It’s pretty difficult trying to ‘get to know’ someone you cannot see. I suppose I could pretend it’s like cybersex, but response times not really that great. I do have strong feelings for your Lord, but I just want to feel your body close to mine and feel your arms around me.

I love you Lord, I really do, but you don’t make it easy. I know you’ll be here physically one day but what I am supposed to do in the mean time. I have all these feelings and no way to express them. I guess that’s why I’m writing this letter to you.

Still, despite all my questions about this relationship, I do know that you will  get this letter and I know you will respond in your time and in your own way. To be honest, Lord, I’m just thankful that you want to be with me, even though I don’t deserve you.

Look forward to seeing or hearing from you.

Love,

Your follower

P.S. What do you think of the girl sitting opposite me on the train?

P.P.S Do I have to call your Father? It’s seems a bit incestuous. Couldn’t we just be really good friends with benefits? ;)

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