Critical Studies in Men’s Underwear

April 15th, 2015

2050070XIssue number 2, volume 1, of the journal Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion, might be loosely described as “The Underpants Issue”. See for example the paper ‘What lies beneath? Thoughts on men’s underpants’ by Dr Prudence Black, BA SACAE Hons Macquarie MA UTS PhD Sydney, ARC DECRA Fellow, and colleagues.

“This article consists of a number of thoughts about and meditations on men’s underpants. Beginning with a ‘day in the life’ of a standard pair of underpants, it moves on to explore some of the specific characteristics that accompany the wearing of this particular garment. There follows a consideration of the role played by underpants in the creation of male characters for screen and television. A brief look at Homer Simpson’s Y-fronts is followed by the examination of a crucial moment in the history of Australian undergarments, […]”

Or perhaps, instead, (or as well as) :’Revealing myself: A phenomenological approach to my underwear choices through the years‘ by Professor Jose Blanco F.

“In this article I apply a phenomenological approach to discuss my personal lived experience and creative authorship in selecting my underwear, thus, explaining the meanings created by my interaction with my underwear and how this clothing object has been shaped by my cultural context, socio-economic factors and my relation to my own body and sexuality. Underwear can be directly linked to questions of identity and a person’s location within a social context. Since identity can be read as imbedded in social relations and situations, it can be assumed that underwear is a dynamic tool in the construction of multiple identities. […]”

To peruse the journal’s entire table of contents go here.

Housework affects fertility (in Finland)

April 14th, 2015

Miettinen Anneli wwwAnneli Miettinen and colleagues at the Population Research Institute, Väestöliitto, Finland, have, perhaps for the first time, performed a study to examine whether housework might be linked in some way to (in)fertility. Results of their enquiries, published in the May 2015 issue of the journal Acta Sociologica :

“[…] show that women’s housework hours were negatively associated with the likelihood of having children at all parities. Men’s contribution to domestic tasks, measured in relative terms, had no impact on childbearing.”

See: ‘Women’s housework decreases fertility : Evidence from a longitudinal study among Finnish couples’


A rectal foreign body in a 65 million year-old Danish sea urchin

April 14th, 2015

Since David B. Busch and James R. Starling, won the 1995 Ig Nobel Literature prize for their deeply penetrating 1986 research report, “Rectal foreign bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the World’s Literature” the body of literature on the subject and the number of cases has increased considerably. By 2012, no less than 589 reports on these inconveniences have been published. All cases, however, refer to humans. But now a paper has come to our attention that details the first documented case of a rectal foreign body in a 65 million year-old sea urchin from Denmark.

Close up anus sea urchinJesper Milan, Bo W. Rasmussen and Lothar H. Vallon of Geomuseum Faxe and Natural History Museum of Denmark report ‘An unusual taphocoenosis of a sea urchin and a rectally inserted turriform gastropod from the lowermost Paleocene of Stevns Klint, Denmark’ in New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 67 (2015): 231-234:

A specimen of the common irregular echinoid Echinocorys sulcata (Goldfuss, 1826), recovered from the lowermost Paleocene Stevns Klint Formation, at Stevns Klint, Denmark, is of note in revealing a perfect external mold of the turriform gastropod Cerithiella fenestrata (Ravn, 1902) in the anal opening. The gastropod penetrated over a length of 21 mm perpendicularly into the echinoid test, and impressions in the surrounding matrix show the gastropod to have protruded over a length of 8 mm out of the test, being tightly lodged in the periproctal opening. It is assumed that this unusual combination resulted from the activities of bioturbators which, by chance, pushed the empty gastropod shell into the anal opening of the test of the dead echinoid, although other, more colorful, explanations cannot be excluded.

When asked about the significance of this discovery, Jesper Milàn answered by e-mail:

… it might be of some comfort for the unfortunate people who had to take the long walk to the doctor, to know it has happened to sea urchins long before any humans were present on the planet.

The images below illustrate the remarkable fossil association, where A is the sea urchin, B close-up of the anal opening showing the imprint of the gastropod shell, C silicone cast of the imprint, and E transparent CT-image of the sea urchin showing the orientation of the shell.

Milàn et al - Echinoid with snail - Fig 3 color

BONUS: Jesper Milàn (co)authored two recent papers that detail the discovery of vertebrate coprolites (fossil droppings) near the Danish shell-in-sea-urchin and elsewhere in Europe.

A(nother) new kind of underpants (US patent)

April 13th, 2015

UK-based inventor Paul O’Leary has received (as of 20th Jan 2015) a US patent for his ‘Underwear Garment’

“A significant amount of effort has been expended into research of clothing and, in particular, the aspects of underwear garments which help to promote confidence and self-esteem within a wearer. Such research and development has typically centred on specific areas of the human body, such as the chest or legs, resulting in a number of improvements in the form and function of, for example, brassieres, corsets and stockings. It is perhaps fair to say that less effort has been generally expended in this regard to the groin region.

ShrreddiesThere are a number of problems and social stigmas associated with the groin region which can lead a person to lack confidence or otherwise feel embarrassed.”

The new invention – already being marketed under the tradename ‘Shreddies’ – is designed (amongst other things) to attend to some of these problems by filtering out flatulence via a ‘Zorflex’ activated-carbon back panel.

The Science Behind Shreddies is explained here : [scroll about halfway down the page]

Also see: A new kind of underpants (2010)

Coming Soon: Underpants in Academia

How to write an “editor’s note” (about nudie musicals in 1970s New York City)

April 13th, 2015

A good editor’s note clarifies something vital that some readers might (without guidance from the editor) overlook or under-appreciate, or that some lawyer insists on having stated explicitly. New editors can learn the art of writing editor’s notes by studying classic examples. Here is one such example:

[Editor’s note: This post contains numerous hyperlinks to video and sound files that enrich the text with excerpts from the films and productions that the author discusses. We suggest that you read through the post once without clicking the hyperlinks to get a sense of their context in the discussion, and then go back through to reap the benefits of these additional illustrations.]

That note appears at the very beginning of an essay called “Nudie Musicals in 1970s New York City“, by Elizabeth L. Wollman [pictured here], associate professor of music at Baruch College, City University of New York. The essay was published on June 16, 2014, in the “Sound Matters” blog, produced by the Society for Ethnomusicology.ElizabethWollman

(Thanks to investigator Jim Cowdery for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: Baruch College is home to many great essayists. Perhaps the greatest is Professor John Trinkaus, who has written nearly 100 studies about things that annoy him.