Anticipating mirth lowers stress hormones
U.S. researchers who found anticipating laughter releases "good" hormones now find anticipating laughter also lowers levels of stress hormones.

The study finds simply anticipating a mirthful experience reduces potentially detrimental immune system stress hormones such as cortisol by 39 percent, epinephrine by 70 percent and dopac by 38 percent.

The researchers used a protocol similar to one used two years earlier to find an increase in two "good" hormones -- beta-endorphins that alleviates depression increased by 27 percent and human growth hormone, which helps with immunity, increased by 87 percent -- when volunteers anticipated watching a humorous video. There was no such increase among the control group who did not anticipate watching the humor film.

"Our findings lead us to believe that by seeking out positive experiences that make us laugh we can do a lot with our physiology to stay well," study lead researcher Dr. Lee Berk of the Oak Crest Health Research Institute, in Loma Linda, Calif., said in a statement.

The findings were presented at the 121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society -- part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference in San Diego.

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Ding Dong!

Ding Dong!
Some care homes in Belgium secure the services of prostitutes for some of their disabled residents, with the approval of the residents' family members.

One home for the disabled in Schilde, near Antwerp, said it has engaged prostitutes for five of its 16 residents, The Telegraph reported.

"It often happens that one of our residents will ask for a prostitute," said Kris Schauwbroeck, a social worker at Driehuizen home. "We feel we should grant that request, because the disabled, too, have the right to their sexuality. And in general the prostitutes have responded positively."

Families of the disabled residents have consented to the services, Schauwbroeck said. However, there are concerns about the cost -- because sex services are not covered by health insurance.

"Their only worry sometimes is the financial aspect. These prostitutes are not cheap, which means the number of visits must be limited," he said.

© 2007 UPI. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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Making Room for God in Your Bed

Making Room
Sex and God do mix – according to 'Catholic Kama Sutra'

The correct Roman Catholic sexual position is not, as many might imagine, missionary, infrequent and with the lights out, but "saucy, surprising and fantasy packed".

The bleak traditional view was St Paul's injunction to the Corinthians: "It is better to marry than to burn with passion." However, a Polish priest who has written a surprising bestselling sex manual dubbed the "Catholic Kama Sutra" believes it is better still to marry and burn with passion.

The first edition of the book Sex as you don't know it: For married couples who love God
by Father Ksawery Knotz, a Franciscan from a monastery outside Krakow, titled Seks (in very large letters) and "for married couples who love God" in rather smaller type, has sold out and is being hastily reprinted in Warsaw.

"Every act – a type of caress, a sexual position – with the goal of arousal is permitted and pleases God," he writes. "During sexual intercourse, married couples can show their love in every way, can offer one another the most sought-after caresses. They can employ manual and oral stimulation."

His book has the blessing of the Polish Catholic church and follows the orthodox line in many ways: he firmly addresses only married couples and discourages the use of any form of contraception, saying it can "lead a married couple outside of Catholic culture and into a completely different lifestyle". But within those confines, couples are urged to let rip.

"Some people, when they hear about the holiness of married sex, immediately imagine that such sex has to be deprived of joy, frivolous play, fantasy and attractive positions. They think it has to be sad like a traditional church hymn," he writes.

Calling sex a celebration of the marriage sacrament raises its dignity in an exceptional way. Such a statement shocks people who learned to look at sexuality in a bad way. It is difficult for them to understand that God is also interested in their happy sex life, and in this way gives them his gift."

If not shocked, some readers might wonder what a celibate priest knows about the subject. He concedes that a priest writing a book about sex is seen as sensational, but he insists that his experience may be second hand, but it is extensive.

"I talk with a lot of married couples and I listen to them, so these problems just kind of sit in my mind," he said. "I would like for them to be happier with their sex life, and for them to understand the church's teachings so there won't be unnecessary tension or a sense of guilt." He has also run a website offering sexual advice to the devout for the past year.

Warm fulfilling discussions are ongoing about translations into Slovakian, Italian and English editions. The publishers are in ecstasy.

Written by Maev Kennedy
Source:, Thursday 14 May 2009 23.36 BST

Gay In India

A court in Delhi decriminalizes homosexuality.

Roy Sinai
by Roy Sinai
07.06.09, 12:15 PM EDT
Originally published in

"Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high ..." begins a prayer the poet Rabindranath Tagore published in 1910, invoking the almighty to awaken India's collective consciousness into a "heaven of freedom."

With a radical decision last week, the Delhi High Court decriminalized consensual sex between homosexual adults and swept away a threat that hangs over every Indian who, in the privacy of his or her own bedroom, might engage in sexual activity "against the order of nature."

And by linking its ruling to each citizen's fundamental right to freedom and protection from discrimination, the court's verdict rose above the fray of the culture wars around the issue of sexuality in this predominantly orthodox and religiously conservative country.

Over the 149 years of its existence, the infamous (if rarely enforced) Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has remained a psychological threat to India's sexual minorities. It has resulted in countless instances of misery and harassment, and spawned a thriving blackmail industry.

Gay in India
The psychology of fear that the law begat, by its mere existence, has been lifted with the court's ruling that it is unconstitutional. In that alone, a great wrong has been righted. For the millions of gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities in India--and with the country's population of 1.3 billion, we are talking many, many millions--to be able to hold their head high and be who they are, equal before the law, is both a huge psychological boost and an affirmation of their human dignity.

For urban, middle-class homosexuals, being gay in India is akin to being gay in the U.S. in the 1950s. The condition of homosexuals in small towns and rural India is far worse. Most gays in India remain in the closet for cultural and social reasons, irrespective of the law; many still feel that the Delhi court's ruling will not really impact their day-to-day lives as long as social stigmas remain.

I don't know the non-pejorative word for homosexual in Hindi, but "gandu"--the equivalent of bugger--and the word "homo" are routinely used colloquially as put downs and abuse. Many families have "the gay uncle" who "nobody talks about," a semi-visible personage in the family pantheon.

This "don't ask, don't tell" kind of blindness has only further emasculated the image of the gay person by making him invisible. It is not surprising that the law has remained untouched all these years after independence, undisturbed by any political will, cocooned by a culture that turned a blind eye.

Gay in India 2
A noisy debate is underway, and the media is revving up to cover a grand culture war. The religious groups have been vocal, but recent statements from an archbishop and a senior mullah have restricted themselves to morality and sin--underlining an appropriate separation between church and state. Predictably, they reiterate that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, but also that every sin is not a crime.

However, the media storm has brought a number of anti-gay prejudices and beliefs from ordinary people to the fore--revealing the warped images people have of what it means to be gay, fed largely by stereotypical Bollywood portrayals of them as effeminate objects of ridicule.

Removing s377 is one successful step in the right direction. But it is ONLY the start. True equality will happen only when people stop thinking with their scriptures that call homosexuality a 'sin' a....

Coupled with religious orthodoxy, the risk of a prejudiced majority bullying a minority out of its rights runs high when emotions and feelings are aroused from moral outrage. Gay activist groups, which have been at the forefront of the fight for repeal of the law, are being careful not to fall into the trap.

It is critical that they keep the framework of the debate where the court has pegged it--as an issue of fundamental rights--and thereby address our changing consciousness and society.

The real opportunity for the gay community in India now, after a favorable court ruling, is to concertedly address these social stigmas. It must also strive to make itself more visible--not in any stereotypical way, but by presenting itself to the public eye as it is, or rather, as it emerges.

As more people come out of the closet, if only to strengthen the court's ruling by standing up and being counted, we also will be acknowledging a reality we have always known. Deep-rooted cultural prejudices do take time to transform, but in this increasingly networked world, ideas--and the dreams they inspire--can move across countries, castes and creeds.

Let us not forget that 60% of India's population is under the age of 25. The decriminalization of homosexuality is going to impact them as they come of age, develop their increasingly individualistic identities and make choices about how they wish to live. This newly empowered generation of citizens is concerned with securing economic prosperity by engaging with each other, and the rest of the world, in a culture of tolerance and respect.

Is this heaven? Far from it. But India, surely, has taken a giant step away from hell.

Bangalore-based 41-year-old Roy Sinai is on a sabbatical from corporate life to, as he says, navel-gaze, embrace demons, explore less-travelled paths and chill. His interests span film, writing, travel, technology, queer sensibilities and television.

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The Old ‘In & Out’…

China's 'Love Land' sex theme park closed before completion
by Karen Hawthorne
May 18, 2009, 4:59 PM Source:

In and Out 1
Officials in Chongqing Wash Their Hands of ‘Love Land’

The giant genitalia sculptures and suggestive exhibits under construction at China's first-ever sex theme park were bound to get somebody upset, now weren't they? Talking about sex is still taboo there, let alone taking a roller-coaster ride nestled inside an over-sized thong-wearing derriere.

In and Out 2
Over the weekend, officials in the sprawling city of Chongqing, where Love Land was being built, ordered its destruction, the New York Times reported Monday. A state-run newspaper, the Chongqing Evening News, blamed it on the risqué nature of the park:

The park manager, Lu Xiaoqing, had planned to display naked human sculptures, giant models of genitals, sex technique “workshops” and a photography exhibition about the history of sex, according to China Daily. The displays would have included lessons on safe sex and the proper use of condoms.

Mr. Lu told China Daily that the park was being built “for the good of the public.” Love Land would be useful for sex education, he said, and help adults “enjoy a harmonious sex life.”

He added: “Sex is a taboo subject in China, but people really need to have more access to information about it.”

Mr. Lu was building the park in an entertainment zone of Chongqing near the Yangtze River. Chongqing, a booming city built on hills on either side of the Yangtze, once served as the wartime capital of the Kuomintang government. Like other fast-growing cities in China, it has a reputation for loose moral standards.

In and Out 3
Lu Xiaoqing, park manager, told the newspaper he got the idea for building Love Land after a visit to a sex park in Jeju, a popular destination in South Korea, and that he had found that the majority of people supported his idea, but had to pay attention and not make the park look vulgar and nasty.

(Photos: At top, A woman washes her hands at a specially-designed wash basin in a public toilet at Love Land theme park in this April 10, 2007 file photo Reuters/Stringer/Files); second from top, a giant penis suffers separation anxiety as it’s hauled away, third from top: In this file picture taken on May 15, 2009, visitors try to get a glimpse of Love Land, billed as China's first-ever sex theme park, in southwest China's Chongqing municipality. STR/AFP/Getty Images.)

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