The New Old World



Despite the deluge of minimalist magazine images as slick as a well-licked plate, there are countless reasons to remain drawn to traditional d├ęcor: Perhaps you grew up surrounded by antiques or antique reproductions; you marvel at the craftsmanship and delicious lines of an inherited desk (lamenting that it seems lost amidst a hodge podge of competing elements); you’re comforted by the style’s staying power and the feeling it creates of living well. Or perhaps you’re just puzzling over how to fit your traditional furnishings into a new, larger, or more open home.

And this is 2006, not 1806. You want to honor your heritage, but link it to real life -- your own life. Design today should make life easier, better, and more pleasurable. Enter: traditional style, enabling us to integrate a feeling of being grounded with the faster-paced new millennium -- if we only knew how.

Actually, times have never been better or more filled with ideas for defining today’s New Old World. Solutions lie in applying current style trends in a way that complements, enhances, and takes advantage of the sculptural lines and fine craftsmanship of traditional design.

Balance and Scale

Match the scale of each piece to its surroundings and accessories.

* To show off their best features -- a handsome profile or elegant inlay, for instance -- silhouette shapely furnishings like sculpture against a simple wall treatment. The wall should pleasingly frame the piece without dwarfing or crowding it. If older traditional furnishings appear out of scale in today’s larger homes, give them a prominent place in a more intimate area, such as a hallway, foyer, or even bath. A bedroom chest makes an elegant and practical hall piece; a tea table fits alongside a chair rather than in the middle of a room.

* Alternately, blend older pieces with new, classically styled furnishings designed for the scale of today’s more expansive spaces. The pared down, classic styling of Gentleman’s Quarters (TM) from Palmer Home, for example, complements antiques, or, used on its own, has a refined, authentic appeal. A soft patina and worn finish lend a sense of richness and warmth. The graceful sleigh bed, for example, has a baseball-stitched leather headboard for comfort, a low footboard for better television viewing, and is substantial enough to comfortably anchor a large room.

Simplification

Reducing the number of elements in a room makes it more relaxing and draws attention where you want it. If it’s hard to let go of possessions, rotate them. Your life isn’t static, why should your house be?

* Set off traditional pieces by surrounding them with clean-lined or more modern ones. Unify a space with the continuous tone of a solid color area rug, sisal carpeting, or even wall-to-wall. A muted Oriental is updated and always appropriate.

* Soften a room with fabric. In lieu of a cocktail table, for example, the oversized Foxburg cocktail ottoman from Gentleman’s Quarters gives the eye a place to rest, absorbs sound, and finds multiple practical uses.

* Whether traditional or more modern, clean-lined, large-scale accessories are more restful than multiple smaller ones: large books, plump pillar candles inside hurricanes, or a large lacquered tray atop an ottoman. To unify small items into a larger visual whole, group like pieces together. If you can’t resist silver, select pieces with simple lines.

Color

Whatever the style, color immediately changes the look of a room.

* Update classic looks with one of today’s bold, new colors: cool it off with a lettuce green or turn up the heat with pimento red.

* For a more subdued look, use a neutral color palette such as warm taupe or camel. Update it with crisp black or silver accents: lampshades, pillows, trunks, curtains, or a mirror frame.

* For unity, repeat the wall color in upholstery.

Lightening Up

The wealth of architectural elements can lend a masculine feel to classic design. Here are some ways to create a softer feel:

* Incorporate lighter, softer colors, such as the new light and icy blues.

* Include soft, floral patterned fabrics or an orchid in a clean-lined pot.

* Set off the lines of an intricately styled bed with simple, solid-colored linens.

* Avoid fussy details that compete for attention and create a busy rather than relaxed look.

* Relax a dining table with cane back chairs.

* Select softer, gentler artwork. Surprisingly, tropical motifs work well with traditional design (envision the palm-like tops of Corinthian columns).

Layering

Whether for a bed, tabletop, or room, layering creates visual depth and a lived-in feel.

* Add and delete elements in your different layers -- from floor covering to furnishings to accessories to lighting -- until you have an inviting sense of balance and dimension.

Function

Finally, no update would be complete without adding the conveniences that make life easier. Mix in new furnishings for added function: stone tops that resist moisture, drawer liners to prevent silver from tarnishing, storage drawers and shelves, and of course, fully outfitted entertainment centers.

Teaming classical design with today’s pared down aesthetics allows you to imbue your love of tradition with a fresh spirit. Your space becomes more livable, more you. Welcome to the New Old World.

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Ash Wednesday Mass Interrupted by Porno Recordings


AP

The Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi was evacuated during noon Mass on Ash Wednesday when three CD players duct-taped to the bottom of pews began blaring sexually explicit language.

The players were set to turn on at 12:22 p.m. as parishioners were in the middle of Mass, police Capt. Gary Johnson said.

The recordings were filled with people using foul language and "pornographic messages," Johnson said. He would not elaborate because of the ongoing investigation.

Church staff personnel removed the CD players, took them to the basement and called police, who sent a bomb squad, Johnson said.

The bomb squad blew up two of the players on a grassy area near the church, then kept the third one for analysis after determining the players were not dangerous.

The recordings were made on store-bought blank discs, Johnson said.

"We'll run the full gamut" of tests on the player, including checking for fingerprints or DNA and tracing its components, he said.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which marks a 40-day period of fasting before Easter. Clergy mark the foreheads of the faithful with ashes to symbolize penance during Ash Wednesday services.

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Jamaicans Get Angry Because They Choose To


Mark Beckford,
Gleaner Writer

With mounting concerns regarding the problem of aggression in the society, an anger management workshop put on by The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, on Saturday, was a welcome response.

The seminar, which was held at Paddington Terrace in St. Andrew, comprised three sessions dealing with the causes of anger, the effects of anger and how to deal with anger.

Workshop coordinator, Dev Ki Ramshia, believes that anger is a conditioned emotion and as such can be controlled. She said this would result in a more peaceful and tolerant society.

"There are many factors that trigger anger inside of us: jealously, hurt, manipulation and a sense of betrayal."

Ms. Ramshia says the inability of persons to control this emotion, affects people both physically and emotionally.

Disallow manipulation

She says one way of dealing with anger is to not allow oneself to be manipulated or to manipulate others.

"If I insult somebody and they refuse to accept the insult, who does that insult stay with? Me! so therefore, can someone be insulted unless they choose to be insulted? So I can't anger someone unless he/she chooses to be angry."

Ms. Ramshia also says too many negative images of aggression and violence are being fed daily into the sub-consciousness of individuals, which is impacting how they think and eventually behave.

"Mahatma Gandhi said, 'An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind', so we cannot fight fire with fire. We need to create a wave and an awareness of positive values," she says.

She also believes there should be more collaboration between the government and the media to highlight more positive images to the society.

Ms. Ramshia has recommended that there should be more emphasis on family values and morals in society to effect positive changes.

Konata Beluchi, a participant at the workshop, echoed the sentiments of Ms. Ramshia, saying that there should be a large push by the leaders of the nation to promote these ideals.

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Get Some Ghostly Encounters At The Historic Lowe Hotel


Rick Steelhammer
Staff writer

“Boston” Rob Mariano of “Survivor: Marquesas” fame got a major case of the heebie-jeebies here during an October stay at the historic Lowe Hotel.

Mariano, who now serves as the celebrity skeptic on the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Sci-Fi Investigates” series, was in town with a 17-person production crew for a week to film a segment on Mothman.

The legend of the man-sized winged creature arose from tales of a sighting near this Mason County town in 1966.

While the popular reality-television star ended his stay remaining a Mothman doubter, he was convinced that something eerie had taken place at the restored, 1901-vintage hotel where he and the crew lodged during its Point Pleasant stay.

While walking through a hallway early one morning, Mariano spotted a female apparition “in a long dress silently dancing, twirling to unheard music,” on the mezzanine overlooking the lobby, according to Dr. Bill Doleman, an archaeologist who serves on the “Sci-Fi Investigates” paranormal investigation team.

In his series-related blog, Doleman said the experience left Mariano “genuinely spooked — pun intended,” and “ready to leave.”

“He did talk about refusing to stay here,” recalled Ruth Finley, who, with her husband, Rush, owns the Lowe Hotel. “But I thought he might have been doing it to add to the drama.”

A side-story on the Sci-Fi Channel’s Mothman segment was devoted to paranormal encounters at the Lowe Hotel. The hotel also was featured in a recently aired segment of the Travel Channel’s “Weird Travels” series.

Mariano was far from the first guest to report encountering a presence at the hotel. Otherworldly riverboat captains and the ghost of Matewan Massacre figure Sid Hatfield are among other apparitions sighted at the hotel.

“A little girl on a tricycle has been seen several times in the second-floor hallway,” added Rush.

Those who don’t encounter ghosts might report hearing noises or experiencing feelings of coldness or dizziness at various points in the 54-room hotel. Or they might experience nothing but the peace, quiet and serenity that comes from spending getaway time in a restored lodge overlooking the Ohio River in a small, peaceful West Virginia town.

“Whatever ghosts we have must be descendents of the Casper family,” Rush said. “They’re all friendly.”

Since buying the hotel in 1999, the Finleys say they have personally encountered nothing more eerie than the rare feeling of being watched, or being near some type of unseen presence. But over the years, guests have supplied them with a growing list of perceived paranormal encounters.

“We used to keep all those stories quiet, because we thought it would be bad for business,” Ruth said. “But in the last several years, these kinds of experiences have come into vogue, and we’ve encouraged guests to share their stories.”

“From what our guests tell us, the north end of the hotel and the area around the second-floor parlor seem to have the most apparitions,” Rush said.

Now, people ask for rooms where ghosts have been seen, and bring cameras in attempts to photograph energy orbs — glowing sources of light attributed to either paranormal activity or natural phenomena, depending upon the photographer’s point of view.

People seeking paranormal encounters now account for nearly half of the Lowe Hotel’s guests, according to Ruth Finley. “I’d say it’s at least 40 [percent] to 50 percent,” she said. “It really helps out in the winters, when things could get very slow.”

Ruth, a coal miner’s daughter from Logan County, and her husband, a Lincoln County native, bought the hotel in 1990, and have been gradually restoring it.

A new roof and boiler are among major improvements, in addition to repairing and repainting all windows.

“Places like this are money pits,” Ruth said. “That’s why so many of them get torn down. But with buildings like this, profit shouldn’t be the only consideration.”

Built in 1901, the four-story building began its life as the Spencer Hotel, named in honor of Point Pleasant lawyer J.S. Spencer.

“It was built using gothic architecture by the same man who rebuilt The Homestead after it burned down in 1898,” Rush said.

“It’s been operated as a family-owned hotel ever since. We’re the third family to own it. It may be the oldest continually operated hotel in the state.”

The hotel got its current name after the Lowe family bought it in 1929, in the opening months of the Great Depression.

The building contains numerous original stained-glass panels. A series of panels adding natural light to the hotel’s banquet room are believed to be Tiffany. Other treasures include a huge lobby fireplace lined with tiles from the Rookwood Pottery kilns in Cincinnati, a grand staircase and the state’s last operating telephone switchboard system, in use until 1990.

In addition to the banquet room, the 100,000-square-foot hotel houses a grand ballroom on its fourth floor, a mezzanine dining area for smaller gatherings, and the Red Parrot lounge. Rooms include antique-filled singles, doubles, suites equipped with Jacuzzis, and two- and three-room suites for family groups. All have private bath facilities.

“We operate the hotel like a family inn,” Ruth said. “People either really like it, or they don’t get into it at all.”

The hotel has hosted yoga and alternative-medicine workshops, and Finley said she would like to see it become a regional center for hosting alternative health-related retreats and seminars.

For now, though, with the Mothman Museum housed on the same block and the gleaming, stainless steel Mothman statue rising 12 feet above Fourth Street near the hotel’s entrance, the Lowe is a natural overnight spot for fans of the legendary winged creature.

“Mothman helps bring people here,” said Rush Finley. “But people love it when they come here, and they keep coming back.”

The Lowe Hotel is located at the corner of Main and Fourth streets in downtown Point Pleasant. For more information, call 675-2260 or visit www.thelowehotel.com.

To contact staff writer Rick Steelhammer, use e-mail or call 348-5169.


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Valentine's Day - Old Wine In New Wine Skin



Valentine’s Day as a Pagan Holiday:
Isn’t Valentine’s Day a Christian day, named after a Christian saint? When we consider the matter more closely, we don’t find a strong relationship between Christian saints and romance. There is a lot of debate and disagreement among scholars about the origins of Valentine’s Day. We’ll never be able to disentangle all of the cultural and religious threads in order to reconstruct a complete and coherent story, but the pagan connections to the date are much stronger than the Christian ones.

February 14th & Juno Fructifier or Juno Februata:
The Romans celebrated a holiday on February 14th to honor Juno Fructifier, Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses as well as goddess of marriage. In one ritual, women would submit their names to a common box and men would each draw one out. These two would be a couple for the duration of the festival (and at times for the entire following year). Both rituals were designed to promote not only fertility, but also life generally.

February 15th & Feast of Lupercalia:
On February 15, Romans celebrated Luperaclia, honoring Faunus, god of fertility. Men would go to a grotto dedicated to Lupercal, the wolf god, located at the foot of Palatine Hill and where Romans believed that the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were suckled by a she-wolf. The men would sacrifice a goat, don its skin, and run around, hitting women with small whips, an act which was supposed to ensure fertility.

St. Valentine, Christian Priest:
According to one story, Roman emperor Claudius II imposed a ban on marriages because too many young men were dodging the draft by getting married (only single men had to enter the army). A Christian priest named Valentinus was caught performing secret marriages and sentenced to death. While awaiting execution, young lovers visited him with notes about how much better love is than war — the first “valentines.” The execution occurred in 269 CE on February 14th.

St. Valentine, Second and Third:
Another Valentinus was a priest jailed for helping Christians. During his stay he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her notes signed “from your Valentine.” He was eventually beheaded and buried on the Via Flaminia. Reportedly Pope Julius I built a basilica over his grave. A third and final Valentinius was the bishop of Terni and he was also martyred, with his relics being taken back to Terni.

Christianity Takes Over Valentine’s Day:
In 469, emperor Gelasius declared February 14th a holy day in honor of Valentinus instead of the pagan god Lupercus. This allowed Christianity to take over some of the celebrations of love and fertility which had perviously occurred in the context of paganism. Pagan celebrations were reworked to fit the martyr theme — Christianity did not approve of rituals that encouraged sexuality. Instead of pulling girls’ names from boxes, both boys and girls chose the names of martyred saints from a box.

Valentine’s Day Turns to Love:
It wasn’t until the Renaissance of 14th century that customs returned to celebrations of love and life rather than faith and death. People began to break free of some of the bonds imposed upon them by the Church and move towards a humanistic view of nature, society, and the individual. Moving towards more sensual art and literature, there was no shortage of poets and authors connecting the dawning of Spring with love, sexuality, and procreation.

Valentine’s Day & Divination:
As with so many other holidays that have pagan roots, divination came to play an important role in the development of modern Valentine’s Day. People looked to all sorts of things, primarily in nature, in order to find some sign about who might become their mate for life — their One True Love. There were also, of course, things which came to be used to induce love or lust.

Commercialization of Valentine’s Day:
Today, capitalist commercialism is the biggest aspect of Valentine’s Day. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on chocolate, candies, flowers, dinners, hotel rooms, jewelry, and other gifts used to celebrate February 14th. There’s a lot of money to be made from people’s desire to commemorate the day. Only Christmas and Halloween come close in the way that modern commercialism has transformed and adopted an ancient pagan celebration.

Valentine’s Day as a Pagan, Commercial Holiday:
Valentine’s Day is no longer part of the official liturgical calendar of any Christian church; it was dropped from the Catholic calendar in 1969. It’s not a feast, a celebration, or a memorial of any martyrs. A return to more pagan-like celebrations of February 14th is not surprising — and neither is the overall commercialization of the day. Millions of people all over the world celebrate Valentine’s Day in one fashion or another, but it’s unlikely that even one of them celebrates it in an even remotely religious manner.

This has resulted in some backlash among reiligious leaders in some societies. Some of the negative reactions are due to the pagan and commercialized elements, but some must be attributed to the long-term Christian character of the day. In India, Hindu nationalists threatened anyone caught observing any Christian holidays, including Valentine’s Day. Some young lovers ccaught in public together on Valentine’s Day were even assaulted. Government officials in Saudi Arabia prohibited Muslims from doing anything at all associated with Valentine’s Day.

A few Christians seem to be interested in restoring some semblance of religion to Valentine’s Day, though not in any traditional sense. They don’t want to use it as a means for memorializing saints, but as a means of evangelization. In Kansas, for example, Christians sent roses to high school girls that were accompanied by Bible verses. It’s not clear whether they were trying to reclaim a lost Christian holiday or merely trying to appropriate a secular, commercial holiday for their own purposes.

The truth, though, is that American culture has so taken over Valentine’s Day that no amount of Bible verses will be able to change things. Commercial interests make so much money from Valentine’s Day that they aren’t going to accept any changes that won’t lead to even more profits. Christians helped make Valentine’s Day a cultural holiday, and now it’s entirely out of their hands.

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Criticize Lawyers For Defending Members Of Their Faith?


Tom Blackwell
National Post

When the B.C. government seized three sextuplets last month to ensure they received blood transfusions, the lawyer for the Jehovah's Witnesses parents responded sharply, labelling the province's move a legal "hit and run."

But then, Shane Brady is no dispassionate hired gun. As an in-house Witnesses lawyer and respected "Bethelite," he is also a senior religious leader of the sect, lives in its headquarters complex in Georgetown and is known to members nationwide for vigorously defending the group's controversial blood-transfusion ban. His devotion to the religion began when, as a young man, he worked as a baker at the head office.

For some, his intimate involvement in the issue is to be admired. The Canadian Bar Association handed Mr. Brady a young lawyers award in 2004, honouring his "dedication above and beyond the call of duty." But others are less impressed, with an Alberta lawsuit accusing him of using his access as a lawyer and authority within the Church to influence clients to comply with the blood policy, a charge Mr. Brady vehemently denies.

"To Jehovah's Witnesses, Shane Brady is a hero. He is a very important religious figure," says Lawrence Hughes, the Calgary man behind the suit and the father of a teenage girl with leukemia who tried to refuse a transfusion.

"The person coming from Bethel [Witnesses headquarters] is the spokesman of God," said Michael Saunders, a former Bethelite and paralegal with the Church. "I know it sounds really, really ludicrous ... [But] essentially, disobeying him is disobeying God."

Mr. Hughes' lawsuit concerning daughter Bethany's eventual death is now before the Alberta Court of Appeal, after lower court judges quashed the case for partly technical reasons. None of his allegations has been proven in court.

Mr. Brady is not the first Witnesses lawyer to be honoured. Glen How, who fought government discrimination against the Church in the 1940s and after, was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2001.

Yet persecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) in Canada is part of the past now. And some experts question whether the lawyers -- with their single minded defence of the blood stand -- offer impartial counsel to parents faced with an unenviable choice: risk their child's death by spurning a blood transfusion or defy the Church and face painful expulsion.

"Legal advice, solid legal advice should not be encumbered by the values of the lawyer," said Professor Chris Levy, associate dean of law at the University of Calgary. "Certainly, in my view, [Witnesses lawyers] come very close to crossing that line. Whether they cross it or not is a very difficult question."

Mr. Brady rejects as "offensive" the criticism of his role, arguing that he is simply representing clients with strong religious beliefs, not imposing his own principles or acting for the Church. It is no different, he said, than a lawyer in the United States who cares deeply about the rights of African-Americans representing a group such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"It would be incredible to argue that if a lawyer happens to have a certain moral view ... it would preclude them from taking on a certain case," he said. "That would preclude judges who happen to be Jewish sitting on a case involving Jewish individuals. The whole notion is ridiculous."

Earl Cherniak, a prominent Toronto civil-litigation lawyer and friend of Mr. How, said he has no problem with in-house JW lawyers taking on transfusion cases. But if they do, they must fulfill their professional duty to present clients with all their legal options, including accepting the transfusion.

Mr. Brady was in Vancouver recently, demanding a right to oppose the court order obtained unilaterally by B.C.'s Children and Family Development Ministry that allowed hospital staff to give transfusions to three babies against the parents' wishes. Two of the sextuplets have died. The parties return to court on Feb. 23 to debate the matter.
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Officially, Mr. Brady and such colleagues as David Gnam appear in court as members of the law firm W. Glen How and Associates. The citation for his bar association award said he did "pro bono" (free) work for a religious charity.

But the pair are identified on the Web site of Eugene Meehan, Q.C., a private-practice lawyer who worked with them on the Hughes case, as "in-house" counsel for that religion. Former employees of the Watchtower Society Canadian headquarters in Georgetown, called Bethel, have indicated in court documents that How and Associates is, in fact, the Jehovah's Witnesses legal department.

Mr. Brady, like others who work at the head office northwest of Toronto, would have been chosen for his faith and loyalty, said Michael Saunders, a former JW employee who quit the religion in 1995. Also like others, he started with menial jobs -- working as a baker and waiter -- before the Watchtower Society sent him to law school in Toronto, said Mr. Saunders, who was a paralegal in the department for three years. Such Bethelites are considered religious authorities whose word is gospel to other members, he said. On speaking engagements at Kingdom Halls throughout the country, fathers would sometimes even offer up their daughters in marriage to him because of the prestige of his position, he said.

Mr. Brady, who is also an elder, and his wife live in the residences that form part of the headquarters, Mr. Saunders said. Frank Toth, another former Bethelite, said in an affidavit filed in the Hughes case that How and Associates "exists to do the society's bidding," with some lawyers particularly beholden to the organization because the group bankrolled their law degree.

In the Hughes case, Mr. Brady and Mr. Gnam represented Bethany and her mother, Arliss, who stuck by the blood ban while father Lawrence broke from the religion and fought to get Bethany a transfusion. Reports from social workers who sat as witnesses in Bethany's hospital room -- after courts ordered she should face no undue influence -- indicated the lawyers visited and called the girl often, more than once hooking Bethany up by telephone with the family's Kingdom Hall so she could listen to a service. In one case, someone at the service told the teen that everyone "supports her and loves her" in the battle against transfusion. Mr. Hughes said nurses saw Mr. Brady and Mr. Gnam praying with his daughter. His lawsuit charges that they and other Jehovah's Witnesses officials pressured the girl and her mother into opposing a transfusion and seeking out an alternative treatment -- involving arsenic -- that helped lead to her premature death.

Mr. Brady says that suggestion is absurd.

"I've taken my barrister's oath," he said. "No judge has ever raised any concern about my representation of clients."

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Figure Out What Your Perfect Position For Pleasure Is?


Brian Alexander
MSNBC contributor


What's the best sex position? How many people sign prenups? And what could cause a penis to go numb? Sexploration answers your queries. Have an intimate question? To e-mail us, click here.

Q: Bottom line, what is the best sex position?

A: I’m tempted to paraphrase Lincoln who, when asked how long a man’s legs should be, said: “Long enough to reach the ground.”

I mean, the best position is the one that works, right? Picking one and calling it “best” is virtually impossible. Seriously, think about it. I can name about 25 sex positions off the top of my head and I don’t have much of an imagination. There are scores, maybe hundreds. Throw in the dining room furniture, swimming pools, hotel balconies, pillows, the hallway stairs, and the mind boggles.

Positions that hit both your joy centers are always good. This is why some women like it on top, because the clitoris sometimes gets more stimulation that way. Men? Well, we like just about everything, as long as you’re not calling for a double Tsukahara. Positions that make women feel “tighter” are always welcome.

If you do find a position you like best, be sure to vary things anyway. Keep it interesting.

People with certain disabilities or diseases like arthritis may need positions suited for their particular circumstances. A book titled "The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability" by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette, is a good place to look. When I contacted Silverberg, he noted that most rehab centers will provide guidance, including illustrated instructions.

Q: Is it known what percentage of couples who marry today will have signed a prenuptial agreement before they say “I do”?

A: According to Arlene G. Dubin, an attorney in the New York office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, and author of "Prenups for Lovers," nobody knows for sure because most prenups are never put into the public record. Like sex, it’s one of those things many people don’t mention.

But, she says, “there has been an explosion” of prenups in recent years. She estimates, based on anecdote, that about 10 percent of first marriages and 20 percent of second marriages now have a prenup attached. (Lessons learned, so to speak.)

She thinks that by 2020 more than half of all marriages will have such an agreement, a rise partly driven by the increasing economic power of women.

Big cities like New York and Los Angeles have more prenups because there are more rich people around with stuff to protect. But people who have inheritances, no matter where they live, are signing up, too.

Q: My penis head feels numb, and I can’t ejaculate. What are the possibilities? This has been going on for weeks. I’m starting to get scared.

A: Say, you aren’t using one of those vacuum pumps to masturbate, are you? Or to turn that cute-as-a-button penis into The Intimidator because you heard vacuum pumps can lengthen it? I ask because those things can make you numb. Stop it.

Could you be training for the Tour de France? Are you forgetting how long you’ve been on that stationary bike at the gym because you’ve been staring at the really cute woman on the treadmill in front of you? Sitting on those uncomfortable seats for a long time can compress nerves and blood vessels that supply the penis. This can lead to numbness, not to mention impotence (usually temporary). Israeli doctors reported in the journal European Urology that “the most common bicycling associated urogenital problems are nerve entrapment syndromes presenting as genitalia numbness, which is reported in 50 to 91 percent of the cyclists, followed by erectile dysfunction reported in 13 to 24 percent.”

But here’s a question for you: This has been going on for a few weeks and you’re scared and you are writing to me? Have you never heard of urologists? They spend years learning all kinds of fun facts about penises and prostates and nerves and blood vessels.

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Sexual Orientation Vs Talent In NBA, Which Supersede?


MICHAEL ROSENBERG
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST


Lindsey Hunter wouldn't talk about it. Flip Saunders insisted he hadn't thought about it --and looked like he wanted to catch the next plane out of the interview session.

Hunter and Saunders are two of the nicest men in the NBA. If they won't discuss ex-journeyman John Amaechi's revelation that he is gay, then it is easy to wonder: Will the NBA ever be ready for an openly gay player?

The conventional wisdom is that a gay player would keep his teammates up at night, tossing and turning in their caves. But suppose we toss the following two words into the discussion:

Greg Oden.

Oden is the likely No. 1 pick in this June's NBA draft. At worst, he will go second, behind Texas' Kevin Durant. Oden is one of the surest NBA prospects in years.

What if Oden were gay?

(Let's pause to say, as clearly as possible, that there is absolutely no evidence that Oden is gay. I am not implying he is gay. This is not about Greg Oden, the flesh-and-blood person. This is all hypothetical, and I am using Oden as my example solely because of his basketball talent.)

Are we to believe that the entire league would pass on the next David Robinson because of his sexual orientation?

Of course Oden would get drafted -- maybe not first, but certainly in the top 10. Forget about any moral obligations or reservations; we're talking about professional sports here. Using the most fundamental draft-evaluation scale -- potential vs. risk -- Oden's upside as a future 10-year All-Star easily outweighs the possibility that he won't be able to handle the pressure.

Suppose our hypothetically gay Greg Oden got drafted by the (not hypothetically) god-awful Philadelphia 76ers. Two or three of 76ers might say they refuse to play with Oden.

And management would say "OK. Good-bye."

And the players would learn an old lesson: you can't win a fight against your own franchise player. They might not like the young star's sexuality, just as they might not like Allen Iverson's partying or Zach Randolph's gun fetish. But they would learn to live with it.

They might sound like middle-schoolers, blabbing things like, "as long as you don't bring your gayness on me, I'm fine," as current 76er Shavlik Randolph did Thursday. And maybe a few players would object on religious grounds, but then again, maybe they wouldn't: There are a lot of lifestyles in the NBA that don't jibe with any religion I'm aware of, unless you count hedonism, and I don't hear much complaining.

Players can do what they want in their non-work hours. As Joe Dumars wrote in an e-mail, "John Amaechi's personal life should be a non-issue."

There are surely gay athletes in all the major American team sports. But there has never been an openly gay active athlete in any of them.

What would it take for that to change?

It would take courage. It would take thick skin, because of the booing on the road and the skeptical glances in the locker room.

It would take a sense of humor, because in a locker room, everything is comic fodder.

But mostly, it would take undeniable athletic talent. Jackie Robinson succeeded partly because he had the right temperament, but also because he was too gifted to ignore. I don't know where we will find the first openly gay NBA player, but I'm sure it won't be on the bench.

This isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Indians pitcher Kazuhito Tadano admitted to starring in a gay porno movie a few years ago. He said he is not gay and the movie was a mistake. A few Indians backed him, Tadano pitched in 15 games in two years and the republic survived.

As I sat courtside at the Pistons-Lakers game Thursday, I thought about Amaechi, a hypothetical gay superstar and the most talented player on the Palace floor.

Kobe Bryant once played an entire season as an accused rapist. The charges were eventually dropped, but during that season when nobody knew what would happen, Bryant's teammates did not seem all that bothered by the charges. They basically said they would support him, try to win with him and leave his personal life out of it. If that is how it works for an accused sex offender, why can't it work that way for a gay man?

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Sold into prostitution for $680 in Nepal

Kamala Panthi

"My aunt lured me with tall promises of finding work in Kathmandu. But I ended up in a brothel in Pune," Sunita* broke into tears recalling the old wounds of the past. "I'm totally perplexed. No way for me to return anywhere," she said. "My aunt has ruined me completely."

Sunita was only nine-years-old when her aunt sold her three years ago. Her step-mother's cruel treatment and severe economic hardship forced her to accept her aunt's offer.

Her step-mother was too glad to grant her permission to follow her aunt to the capital. She only remembers what happened to her until she ate the food given by her aunt in the bus. After then, she fell unconscious. When her eyes opened, she found herself in a clean bed -- in a grand house. For a while, she felt elated but when she realized that her aunt had sold her for 30,000 Indian rupees (US$680), she couldn't believe it.

She tried to escape but was helpless before the guards. She went through extreme physical and mental torture. Hot water was poured upon her head, and they beat her with an iron rod until she fell unconscious. After some time, the torture became a part of her life. So had a "job" to submit her "body" to about a dozen customers every day for three years.

Then one day, Maiti Nepal -- "an NGO working in the field of increasing awareness to prevent girl-trafficking," with the help of Indian police, rescued nine girls, including Sunita, from the brothel.

"Today, all other girls have returned to their homes after receiving treatment. I'm the only one left here and working with the organization," she said.

"The organization, which has rehabilitated me, has inspired me. I will work with them to rehabilitate and rescue other several Nepalese women like me," she said, "I've only one aim -- I'll devote myself to the campaign against girl-trafficking."

This is not just a tale of Sunita of Nuwakot -- there are many Sunitas in various parts of Nepal and India. Nirmala has a similar woeful past. Her step-mother had taken her to Mumbai -- on the pretext of going to get medication -- where she spent about six years in a brothel.

Similarly, Rubina, hailing from Birgunj, was sold by her own husband. After nine months of marriage, her husband took her to Calcutta on the pretext of meeting his aunt. The aunt turned out to be a pimp. However, she was rather fortunate that she finally escaped with the help of one of her own customers. She has married the same man who helped her during the escape.

She has also found the man who sold her after a year long search. But the "dalal" (trafficker) is being defended by a few "big" persons of high status. He has been released from imprisonment -- and her case has been under review for the last five years.

"Even when I've found the man who sold me, the laws of this land are not able to punish him," Rubina said. "It provides protection to the women-traffickers and pimps, but discriminates against and denounces women like us."

There are about 300,000 Nepali women in Indian red-light districts and brothels. According to Maiti Nepal's estimation, about 5,000 to 7,000 women are trafficked out of Nepal every year. There are several organizations working in Nepal to prevent women-trafficking, but they have failed.

"Nepali women are being trafficked not only to India but to several Arabian countries and America as well," Bishwaram Khadka, director of Maiti Nepal said. "Even if they travel abroad to find employment, they are forced into the flesh trade."

Similarly, Dr Renu Raju Bhandari, President of OREK, which is working in the same field, holds that poverty and penury are the main cause of trafficking.

But it is ironic that the government has gradually cut off its services and assistance which it ought to provide to the NGOs and INGOs working to prevent women-trafficking and the rehabilitation of rescued women.

The government has not taken the issue of women-trafficking as seriously as it should, and the lack of necessary laws to punish traffickers and pimps has made the problem worse.

A few months back, one "dalal" went on to boast that he had sold at least 14 women. According to an advocate of Maiti Nepal, the traffickers are able to escape due to the ignorance and slow process of the judiciary.

Uma Tamang says: "A women who hailed from eastern Nepal was successful in rescuing three other women along with her from a brothel a few months back. But even when the women have filed complaints against the traffickers -- the police administration has failed to arrest them. They are roaming freely in front of their own eyes."

In some cases of trafficking, it has been found that the relatives of the victims have sold them in order to sustain living. They don't find it wrong. In Makwanpur, hundreds of girls are sent to work in the circus in India and ultimately fall into flesh trade.

"But the government is keeping mum -- overlooking the plight of its own citizens," Dr Renu Raj Bhandari expressed anger. "Even after their return, they are denied justice. They struggle to find funds for the legal procedures."

At the same time, the government has been working on Human Trafficking Control Act-2063. There are a few omissions in the Bill, which has been recently prepared by the government. The Bill should make special provision to punish those spouses who have trafficked their own wives. There are legal provisions to punish those who have trafficked women, but no provisions to prevent women-trafficking.

Many advocates say that the soon-to-be promulgated Bill still fails to bring the traffickers to book or prevent human-trafficking.

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Phuket investors implicated in human trafficking bust


Twenty long-neck Karen women (Paduang) arrested while crossing the Thai-Burmese border on Wednesday night allegedly were to be sold to a group of Phuket investors for 10 million baht, police said this week.

Mae Hong Son Provincial Governor Direk Konkleeb urged officers to extend the investigation to arrest those behind the alleged human trafficking.

One of the women, identified only as "Som-O", told police that they had come from Doi Kor province's Ti Mo So District in Burma to stay with Karen residents in Mae Hong Son's Huai Pukaeng Village.

Som-O said she had been living in Huai Pukaeng for a long time and had heard that the Karen at Ti Mo So lived in harsh conditions, so she invited them to cross the border with her to live in Thailand.

The woman appeared to be very stressed, so police placed her under close watch to prevent her from committing suicide.

Another Paduang told police that Som-O early last year had married a Bangkok businessman - although he was allegedly already married to a Thai woman - and had built a resort in Baan Huai Deu to support Som-O's relatives.

The woman added that the businessman wanted 20 Padaung from Ti Mo So to be sold to a group of Phuket investors for 10 million baht.

The Padaung, currently being held for further questioning at Mae Hong Son's Muang District Police Station, were to be handed to Immigration police for deportation.

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A Slight Intimate Encounter With A Japanese Love Hotel


Tammy Gowans

On the way back from Naha one day, my friend and I noticed one of the love motel billboards and it sparked an interesting conversation. I always assumed love motels were for those looking for extra-marital affairs because Japanese men are famous for their mistresses in the city with their wives holding the fort back home, wherever that may be.

As it turns out this is partially true. Many love motels have super private parking lots or at least wooden slats that can go in front of your license plate for privacy. The second group of people who are drawn to love motels are husbands and wives or boyfriends and girlfriends, and of course prositutes and their clients.

Since many people in Japan live in extended family situations, love motels are a way for couples to grab some space and private time for themselves without worrying about the kids or grandparents barging in. Another type of clientele are business men who rent out a room for themselves so they can enjoy, of all things, the lavish baths in each room.

Sure they probably go for the pornography as well but my friend says that the baths in love motels rival those in luxurious spas. Since I'm a bath junkie this peaked my interest and said I would have to go check one out sometime when my friend suggested that we go check one out since we had some time to kill. Now would be a good time to mention that the co-worker I was with was a female and a good friend so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with a love motel.

We went to the RY Hotel in Ginowan. The parking wasn't all that private in this instance. No one could look in from the street but you had to walk by the other cars before going in the entrance. The first thing I noticed on the inside was the lack of staff. Actually she said they are fully staffed but they are behind the scenes and will offer assistance if needed.

Then on the right were wall-length waterfalls what fell into a rocky pool. The wall was lit with blue light and I would have been perfectly happy waiting in the lobby but we had to choose a room. On the left wall was a lit board with pictures of the 20 or so different rooms.

Some were basic with just a bed a television and a toilet/sink area. The more expensive ones had garden Jacuzzi tubs and a shower area. We choose one of those by pressing the button. Rooms that weren't lit up were in use.

After pushing a button, a receipt came out with just the room number on it. The rooms could be rented by the hour or for 7 hours at a tie with a discount rate. Our room was going for about Y4000 (USD $33.00) an hour or Y7000 (USD $58.00) for a "stay" or 7 hours.

For the stay you could only check in at 5:00 am, 12:00 pm, 7:00 pm or midnight. Prices are cheapest at 5:00 am and 12:00. The most expensive rate was from midnight to 7:00 am. Next as we went up the stairs to the room we passed by a waiting area. My friend said that if all rooms were taken or if ours was still being cleaned we would wait in there.

They serve a free drink and call you when your room is ready. This particular hotel, although right by Marine Corps bases had absolutely no English so I wouldn't feel too comfortable bring my husband because of the language barrier and the awkwardness of the whole situation.

There were two doors leading to our room. The first one had a computer - all in Japanese. You didn't have to do anything upon entering but it is where you pay at the end. In this tiny room you take your shoes off then go through the second door that leads to the room itself.

The room was pretty big, like a nice sized hotel room in the States. The decoration was kind of modern. The bed was worn as the middle slumped in. There was a 32-inch TV that had a couple English and Japanese channels, the Playboy channel and two or three Japanese porn channels.

To my surprise the TV also had a fully loaded karaoke machine and on the coffee table in front of the couch was a stack of karaoke magazines. So we sat down and belted out a few tunes. Okay I know - back to the porn. Pornography is regulated in Japan, which I found a little odd knowing that Japan has the horniest men on the face of the Earth. Basically you can only see boobs. The rest of the bits are pixilated. The sound is all there but the genitals are fuzzy.

I remember one of my co-workers telling me about this and he said you could get real porn off the black market that isn't pixilated or you can just grab torrents for free off of the Internet of course.

Between the main living room/bedroom was a wall that contained a vending machine full of condoms, vibrators and outfits to dress up in. One of the vibrators was the infamous rabbit - the official version and it was only going for about $40! One of the girls on Sex & the City bought one for $90 one time so I was shocked and almost bought one for myself. I mean COME ON I'm a woman and no woman can pass up a good bargain.

Since I was with my friend I kept my money in my wallet, that is until I saw the other vending machine on the other side of the room by the kitchen area. This vending machine had sodas, water, sandwiches and ramen. I think it had Orion beer too. I don't remember the prices, but I do remember that to purchase anything out of either of the vending machines all you had to do was open it up and grab what you want. The cost would be tallied up by that computer in the first room when you hit "done". Pretty cool!

On the coffee table was another remote that controlled the mood of the room. You could turn on different colored lights like red, blue or purple and make them as bright or as dim as you want. You could turn the clear lights off and just have colored ones on instead. It was pretty cool and would make for a fun party room.

On to the bathroom. It was a typical Japanese bathroom where the whole thing is a shower stall. Kind of like an RV where the toilet is the shower. The toilet was off to the side but the bathtub was amazing. It was raised and huge. Jets and all. I filled it up and when the jets started running a purple light came on in the tub. It was beautiful - I wanted to crawl in and totally skip out of work for the rest of the day.

For good measure I poured in the free mint bubble bath. There were other free samples on the tub: an onsen (Japanese hot bath) scent like pine bubble bath, something akin to Astroglide. At first I thought it was some kind of fun soap because there was a cartoon of a boy and a girl on the front soaping each other up in the shower but when I opened it it was slimy and I knew right away what it was. There was also a breast mask! This I brought home to try out and it was a cool paper towel like mask that you drape on your breasts to make them nice and firm. I don't know if it worked but it was fun and relaxing. Out by the sink was a full array of shampoos, conditioners, lotion, shaving gel, cologne, perfume and hair gel. There was also an expensive hair drier/curler in one thing hanging up on the wall. Everything smelled great and was luxurious.

We spent a half hour messing around and then we checked out using the computer. The total came to about $40.00. I guess you pay for the full hour whether you stay the whole time or not. I'm not sure if I would bring my husband there or not.

Japanese are meticulous when it comes to cleanliness but I can just imagine catching crabs or something up in there from being on the bed, or the couch for that matter. I will probably bring him eventually. Maybe I can hunt down one of the themed love motels. My boss said those are pretty cool with water themes, space themes, etc. To the untrained eye love motels look like any other hotel on the outside so I might have to enlist the help of a friend to recommend a good clean themed hotel. Still looking for that elusive used panty vending machine. Not that I would buy a pair, but I would take a picture for sure!

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Procrastination—The Thief of Time


“Procrastination is the thief of time.”—Edward Young, c. 1742.

STOP! Don’t stop reading this article! You know what might happen. You might stop and say: “That’s an interesting title, but I don’t have time to read it now. I’ll read it later.” But later may never come.

Don’t procrastinate about reading an article on procrastination! Time yourself. Likely you’ll be able to read this article in about five minutes. You will then have completed about 10 percent of this article! Look at your watch and start timing now. (You’re already 5 percent done!)

Is It Procrastination?

If you put it off—postpone what you could or should do now—then you procrastinate. In other words, you put off for tomorrow what you can do now, today. A procrastinator delays action when it is action that is needed.

A supervisor asks an employee for a report; parents ask their child to clean his room; a wife asks her husband to fix the faucet. “I got too busy” or, “I forgot” or, “I didn’t have time” are excuses given for not getting around to it. The reality is, few of us like to do reports or clean rooms or fix plumbing when there are more enjoyable things to do. So we put it off, we delay doing it.

However, did you know that sometimes it is not procrastination when we put off doing something? One businesswoman who receives a request and doesn’t know what to do with it files it in a box labeled “suspend” on her desk. After a few weeks, she reviews these items and finds that half of them need no action. They have solved themselves or are no longer required. If you are uncertain whether to delay or to act, try to determine what will happen if you never do what you’re postponing. Is the outcome likely to be better if you get it done or to be worse?

If we can and should take action now and delaying needed action could cause more problems later, then delaying is procrastination. For example, washing dishes after they’ve sat for some time makes it harder to scrub them clean. Postponing car maintenance can result in costly repairs later. Falling behind in paying a bill can result in heavier charges or the loss of services. One woman calculated that her overdue traffic tickets, videotapes, and library books totaled 46 dollars in late fees! That was for just one month!

Catching the Thief

Understand why you are procrastinating. Take a look at the following reasons, and see if you can identify which one fits a current project you haven’t started or finished:

Habit:

If I wait until the last minute, I’ll have more motivation to finish it.

I enjoy the excitement I get by doing it at the very last moment.

I’ll wait until the boss reminds me a couple of times, then I’ll know it’s something he really wants done.

I have so much to do that only the crisis things get my attention.

Attitude:

I don’t have the desire or the drive to do the assignment.

I just get to things when I feel up to doing them.

I want to do something else.

I lack self-discipline.

Fear:

I’m not sure I can do it.

I don’t have enough time to do it.

It’s too big a project. I need help.

What if I don’t succeed or finish?

I have to get the materials to complete the project.

I’m afraid I’ll be criticized or embarrassed.

Different people procrastinate at different stages. Some procrastinate before starting because they view the project as too big. Others begin, but about halfway through, enthusiasm wanes, and they put off finishing it. Still others get close to completing it but start another project, leaving the first unfinished. (You’re doing fine, by the way. You’re already halfway through this article.)

Your reasons for not starting or completing a project may fall into all three categories. In the book The Now Habit, Neil Fiore wrote: “The three main issues that are at the bottom of most procrastination problems: feeling like a victim, being overwhelmed, and fear of failure.” Whatever the reasons, if you can put your finger on the causes, you’ll be closer to the solution.

If you are uncertain why you procrastinate, make a log of your activities for a week by half-hour intervals. Determine how you’re spending time. It can be a real eye-opener to see how much time we spend on relatively unimportant things between important tasks. But then what?

Think of the Consequences

Expecting that something will get done without putting effort into it can produce a sickening feeling. As you get closer to the expected deadline, you begin to feel pressure and anxiety. As these feelings build, your creative ability may be hampered. You are not as inclined to measure or weigh various ways to accomplish the goal but are mainly interested in getting it done.

For example: You’re assigned to give a presentation. The night before, you sit down to get a few words on paper. You have not spent enough time to research your subject, so you wing it. Perhaps with just a little more effort, you could have included experiences, supporting information, or charts to help your audience visualize the subject.

Another consequence that comes when we delay a project is the inability to relax when we have free time. That’s because we have a nagging feeling (or a nagging someone who reminds us) that we have left a project undone.

What Can I Do?

Make a list. Do this the night before. Put on paper the things you want to accomplish the next day. This way you won’t forget something, and you’ll see your progress as you check off the completed items. To the right of each item, write how long you estimate it will take to accomplish the assignment. If you are making a ‘To Do’ list for the day, use minutes. If you are making a project list, use hours. Make this list the night before. Take a few minutes to prepare your list for the next day. Keep a monthly calendar at hand. As you accept assignments and appointments, write them in.

When you review the jobs for the next day, prioritize the items from your calendar, placing A, B, C, and so on next to each item to be accomplished. Some people do better work in the morning, others in the afternoon or evening. Schedule your biggest projects for your prime time. Put less enjoyable jobs before the enjoyable ones.

Tell time. If you are always running late, literally running because you’re late, learn to tell time. That is, make an accurate assessment of how long you’ll need to do a task. Add a few extra minutes to the task for the “disaster” that may happen. Don’t forget to allow time between appointments. You need to add travel time. You can’t end a meeting at 10:00 a.m. and be at another one at 10:00 a.m. even if it is in the next room, let alone across town. Allow sufficient time between.

Delegate. We often try to do everything ourselves although we may not always need to. Another person may be able to drop off a package for us if we know he is going to the post office.

Slice it. Sometimes we don’t start a new project because of its size. Why not slice the large task into smaller ones? As we complete the smaller tasks, we’ll see our progress and be encouraged to complete the next phase.

Plan for interruptions. There are always interruptions in our workday—phone calls, visitors, problems, mail. We want to work effectively, which includes working with other people who also have deadlines. If we are concerned only with working efficiently, we’ll become upset when others get in the way of our activities. Therefore, plan for interruptions. Allow time daily for unplanned developments. When these arise, you can take care of them, knowing that you’ve allowed some time for them.

Reward. When you do your scheduling, you should plan for intense or concentrated performance for about 90 minutes. Don’t forget to schedule time for preparation of the job. After you’ve actually started the job and have been working for about an hour and a half, you may need to take a short break. If you work in an office, pause, stretch, and reflect. If you work outside, get some refreshment. Reward yourself for your work, says an old saying.

Just think, you’ve completed this article in about five minutes after you read the title. You may be on your way to recovery!

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Playing The Game Of Attraction - First Flirt


Flirting is a part of the human body language and also affects our relationship issues. The 1st flirt is about sending out those crucial contact messages, where they can be either acknowledged or dismissed. That is the almost mandatory part of making the important contact.

Women are known for their boldness in initiating of the 1st flirt as it can be read on a woman's body language. That is why it is assumed that women flirt more than men. This to some degree is true since women are in a sense the subconscious flirters. Men also flirt; these are his signals of attracting that lady that he fancies.

Guys flirt is like the 1st flirt, which is in a sense a cat and mouse game. And men are known for their hunting prowess, where they normally want to be the conqueror instead of the conquered. And flirting gives the men a chance to sharpen their hunting wits and enjoy the chase; hopefully they do not end up in their own snare. It is all part of the cosmic effect of dating. And that is why so many books are written and are still being written on the subject of 'How to flirt with girls.' Evidently these books are there to help guys flirt more effectively. But is such a thing possible? Can you learn how to flirt with girls?

Obviously with the sale of the books on the subject of flirting increasing, it might be possible. Maybe there is after all some valuable insight that men can get from these books to help them become more successful in their flirting attempts. Making the contact is important, but the 1st flirt is like a billboard, which if it is very attractive, will invite a pathway that leads to a conversation. It is important to remember that all the signs of interest that a flirt presents should be there. You have to be interested and your body language will speak the words you cannot. Guys flirt is often sexual flirt, which is indicative on their body language. That can be very unattractive to most women, and that is what the flirting books help men realize.

Who are these flirting books aimed at? Well, books on flirting are for the person normally a man or woman who are interested in unleashing their flirting power. It is clear that although flirting is an in-born and natural human attraction mechanism not many people have honed in on the skill. This means that some people are good with the 1st flirt and others need to learn how to use their body especially their face a whole lot more. The reality is that we all can flirt and like sex it doesn't hurt to improve on the natural skills that Mother Nature gave us.

Playing attraction games is a perfectly normal human behaviour. We can only learn how to improve our chances of attracting that potential future partner if we play the game properly. The flirting game has no set rules and it is for this reason that even if you do read books on flirting, there is no real guarantee that they will work for you. After all, flirting is about oozing confidence and being self-assured. You have to feel hypnotic power of your own stare.

The 1st flirt should always be about initiating contact. Adding a smile to your eyebrow lifted sexual stare will attract the kind of attention you want. That will be your ticket to opening or initiating a serious conversation and after that you can play your own destiny cards.

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Sexual abuse part of daily routine for US forces in North Korea

The Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper published by the ruling party in North Korea, has stated that "the US forces in South Korea are infected with an abnormal sexual desire and sexual abuses are part of their daily routine".

The comments were made in relation to a case where a young US private is in jail awaiting trial for raping a 67-year-old woman. The paper also said that the south would not obtain social or human rights progress while the "occupation" continued.

Approximately two years ago the South Korean government implemented new laws curbing prostitution. Laws that were pushed for by the conservative Bush administration in exchange for the US military's continued commitment to Korea.

The laws themselves were met with considerable protest from Korean prostitutes and business owners alike. Prostitution remains a mainstay both for domestic and international clients - largely the miliary.

Prostitution has since gone underground causing a number of international organizations to decry the new laws as harmful to women's rights.

Kim Jong Il, son of Kim Il Sung, stands as the nutty leader of North Korea. The nation recently conducted nuclear tests that are largely regarded as a failure in the international community.

Kim - completely disconnected with reality - does not seem to recognise that prostitution is as rampant in the north as it is in the south. 'Women selling flowers' are commen in Pyongyang and beyond.

The United States has had troops stationed in South Korea since the end of the Korean war. Currently 29,500 troops are stationed there. Sporadic crimes and accidents over the years have raised anti-American sentiment in the region.

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Horny housewives heading off to Bangkok to grab a slice of the Thai life


Ryann Connell


Herds of horny Japanese women are flocking to Thailand to make sure its capital city lives up to its name, according to Shukan Shincho.

Bangkok and its myriad netherworld charms have apparently been drawing Japanese women by the planeload over the past few years.

"Go-go boys started off working at gay bars by servicing mostly German and Australian women. Women of Japanese businessmen stationed in Thailand started going off to buy them while their husbands were otherwise occupied. Those women would go home and tell their friends about what they'd done and then they'd all come back to Bangkok again together. Bangkok earned itself a reputation and women started coming here in small groups," a former trade company employee once stationed in the Thai capital tells Shukan Shincho.

Japanese women are providing plenty of patronage for the gay bars where the go-go boys work along Bangkok's Soy Twilight. Many of the bars feature the boys dancing naked on stage. Women buy them drinks costing from 20 to 30 Baht (about 700 to 1,000 yen).

"They really love it when you give them a drink. They sit beside you, give you kisses, put their arms around you or massage your shoulders from behind," an "Office Lady" from Saitama Prefecture, who frequently travels on tours to Bangkok's boy bars, tells Shukan Shincho. "We talk in broken English and broken Japanese. But it's not about the conversation. It's all about the teasing and feeling good. After drinking for a while they'll ask you to go outside with them. Normally, they have to deal with these doddering old Europeans who want them to touch or kiss their willies, which isn't much fun for the go-go boys."

Many of the go-go boys have families of their own and sell their bodies to support them. It costs the women a 500 Baht (about 1,700 yen) bar fine to get the boys to go out with them, while the market rate is another 2,000 Baht (about 7,000 yen) if she wants to take him back to her hotel room. Many hotels also charge an additional 1,000 Baht if they bring somebody back.

"Japanese women tend to be smart. They travel in pairs and hire out a twin room. One will bring a boy home during the day while the other goes shopping," a worker from a Bangkok hotel says, adding that it makes it impossible for the hotels to apply surcharges if the go-go boys are escorted into rooms during broad daylight.

The lure of go-go boys is often all it takes to get many Japanese women to Bangkok. A Japanese journalist working in the Thai capital elaborates.

"There's a 28-year-old OL I know who first came to Bangkok on a holiday 18 months ago and loved the go-go boys so much she has been coming back to Bangkok twice a month ever since," the journalist says. "She stays at five-star hotels costing 20,000 yen a night and keeps the boys with her for a week ... When she gets sick of one guy, she simply calls up another one. She says she feels like a princess. Thai men are really kind and make a big fuss over her."

Another Japanese woman, this one a 30-year-old OL from Kanagawa Prefecture, was also delighted by the go-go boys from Bangkok. She went out dancing with a group of three boys, including one who called himself "Takeshi."

"Takeshi asked me if I'd like to go home with him. We got into a taxi and went to his house, which was a fancy place. We have a few beers, then Takeshi asked me if I'd like to see his bedroom on the second floor. I knew what was going to happen and my heart started pounding. I told him he had to wear a condom and he took one out of his pocket and waved it in front of my eyes. We had a laugh and fell down on his bed. He was hung even bigger than he'd looked like while on stage. It was huge. I was a bit worried about whether it would fit, but it was wonderful," the OL gushes to Shukan Shincho, adding that one of the other go-go-boys soon came along and wanted to join in. "Takeshi asked me what I wanted to do. I said it was all right as long as he used protection. That guy brought a condom out of his pocket and showed me, too. It looked like they'd done this kind of thing before. It was the first time I'd ever had a three-in-a-bed romp. One would pleasure me with their mouth while the other used other parts. I guess because they were used to working the gay scene, they tried to go through the back door, too, but I told them not to do that. At about 6 o'clock in the morning, Takeshi called me a tuk-tuk and took me back to my hotel. It was an unbelievably wonderful experience."

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