After ten years, time to take the chair

Old soldiers never die, Never die, never die, Old soldiers never die, They just fade away. The earliest version of this song is said to date back to the First World War. I don’t go back that far, but at 77 I am getting on a bit, and after Heretic TOC arrived at its 10th anniversary earlier this week, the time has come to take a serious look at what the future holds. Mercifully, I feel in remarkably good nick for my age, both physically and mentally. So, who knows, I might go on fading so slowly you’d hardly notice for …

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Jacob and Karl deserve our support

Outgoing British prime minister Liz Truss made mistakes so gigantic they could be seen from America, even by sleepy old Joe Biden, whose eyes barely open wide enough to read his autocue. We might think those who are smart enough to claw their way to the top in politics would also have the wit to avoid moves that with 20:20 hindsight were always bound to see them tripping over their shoe laces. But we would be wrong, wouldn’t we? We all put our foot in it sometimes. So I’m not going to put the boot in too hard over the mess …

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Friends with benefits for youth

Friendship needs no marketing campaign. Its benefits are obvious. How about “friends with benefits”? We probably have in mind an adult scenario: sex without a committed relationship between friends who trust each other not to foul up anyone’s marriage, or whatever. Not just a hook-up: more caring and personal. Sounds good, albeit not a MAP thing. Or is it? Actually, it is massively an intergenerational phenomenon. It is just that we haven’t been talking in these terms. We can begin to now, though, thanks to the fascinating findings of an overlooked research paper dug up and posted recently in the comments …

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Sex education is no choking matter

Choking is big, apparently. Until recently, to me as an oldie it mainly just meant extreme danger when food gets stuck in your windpipe and you could be dead within minutes if the airway stays blocked. It still has that primary meaning, of course, and the idea that anyone would simulate such a thing deliberately, for sexual excitement, strikes me as utterly insane in the most basic root meaning of that word: from Latin insanus, from in– “not” + sanus “healthy”. Choosing to put yourself at risk of immediate death is most definitely not conducive to good health, right? And as …

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Naïve idealists, not cynical hangers on

It is not every day a prestigious, scholarly book mentions Heretic TOC and names its humble host literally scores of times, but a recent tome from publishers Palgrave Macmillan, yours for a princely £89.99, does just that, so it might be thought worth shouting about. Well, yes, but the title is Sexual Violence Against Children in Britain Since 1965: Trailing Abuse, so you will not be surprised to hear that the kind of noisiness called for is not so much a triumphant fanfare as an agonised scream of protest. The book, by Nicholas Basannavar, who has taught history at Birkbeck, University …

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Let’s be clear about prepubertal orgasm

The word “orgasm” has been around for centuries. Personally, I prefer the wonderfully evocative phrase “the voluptuous acme”, as coined by Albert Moll, the great pioneering German sexologist whose 1912 book The Sexual Life of the Child still has much to tell us. Like his eminent rival Sigmund Freud, Moll was in no doubt that children do indeed have a sexual life, from infancy onwards. In more recent times, though, while lip service is still paid to this view, it is being downplayed in scholarship. The recent Cambridge Handbook of Sexual Development: Childhood and Adolescence, for instance, focuses on the adolescent …

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MAPs are queer but are we in here?

What are we to make of the Queer Britain museum, which opened a couple of weeks ago in London? How inclusive, especially, is its presentation of queerness? Is there any space for MAPs? Housed in a quietly elegant conversion at Granary Square, King’s Cross, the building suggests up-market office space rather than anything daring. Going by what director Joseph Galliano has reportedly said, and by the website, the inside is no more outré than the exterior. The focus is to be “on celebrating queer accomplishments” rather than “the tragic parts”, such as AIDS or, one would think, the unresolved tragedies of …

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Vorsprung durch online Technik!

Today’s guest blog is by Zen Thinker, who has a background in finance and enjoys many spectator sports. He is interested in thinking deeply about today’s world in all its social and philosophical dimensions, and especially the intersection of technology and historical tradition.   TECHNOLOGY, THE ACCEPTANCE OF MAPS AND CHILDREN’S SELF-DETERMINATION   On the battlefield of life, what came to pass, Sanjaya? We are locked in a constant intellectual battle over ideologies. There are periods of history where civilisation takes a massively regressive turn: to the (surmised) delight of modern conservatives everywhere, the decadent and libertine late Roman Empire collapsed, …

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Repression in Netherlands rivals Russia’s

For saying something the state doesn’t like in Putin’s Russia, you get off with a modest fine. For doing the same in the “tolerant” Netherlands you go to prison. Appallingly, this observation is drawn from reliable news reports this month, not from propaganda or dystopian fiction. A Russian court fined broadcaster Marina Ovsyannikova just 30k roubles (£215) for her courageous demonstration on live TV against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Worse may yet befall her, we are told. Meanwhile, though, worse has already happened to a pair of Dutchmen who have dared to campaign in their own country for a more enlightened …

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Stunning comeback for a great champ

He’s done it again! Supergeek Bruce Rind, chess master, stats wizard, revered within the research world but reviled by know-nothing politicians, has hammered yet another nail in the coffin of the CSA trauma thesis, in what I believe will ultimately be regarded as by far his most important paper ever. Yes, yes, I can hear your scepticism already. Don’t get too excited, you will say. We have learnt the hard way that people are swayed by stories, not statistics, so whatever Rind says will either be trashed or ignored. Intellectually, the trauma thesis has been in the coffin for years but …

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