Autistic Girls More Like Normal Boys

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Research on autistic girls didn’t lag that done on boys, none was done because girls were thought to have autism until very recently. Now that scientists accept that girls can be autistic, research is finally being done. A March 1, 2016 Scientific American article sheds some light on what is now being learned about autistic female brains.

One of the things being learned is that, since autism in girls is different than in boys, girls are being diagnosed much later in life than are boys, if at all. The reason for this lag in diagnosis is that the criteria used for diagnosis are based almost entirely on studies of boys. Females mask or compensate for these symptoms much better than do boys and biological factors may prevent the condition from developing in some girls.

Francesca Happ of King’s College in London studied 15,000 twins to find that girls needed to have more behavioral problems or significant intellectual disability or both to be diagnosed. This finding suggests that many girls on the less disabling end of the autism spectrum, those having Asperger’s syndrome, were being missed.

A scientific reason for autistic girls not being diagnosed is that their brains are not functioning the same as do the brains of diagnosed boys. Kevin Pelphrey, a leading autism researcher at Yale, has discovered that autistic girls’ brains analyze social information differently not only from other girls’ brains, but from autistic boys’ brains as well.

Autistic girls’ brains function more like those of normal boys their age. Thus, the brain-activity measures of these girls would not be considered autistic in found in boys.

Jane McGillivray of Deakin University in Australia compared 25 autistic boys and 25 autistic girls with similar numbers of typically children. Autistic girls measured as high on measurements of friendship quality and empathy as typically developing boys their age, but lower than typically developing girls.

<next time we look at how autistic girls compensate>

 

 

 

 

 

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Genetic Differences May Mask Girls’ Autism

Autism

For many years girls were not diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, not even as being high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. The reason most commonly given for this lack of diagnoses was that girls have better communication and social skills than boys and develop behaviors that allow them to pass as neurotypically normal.

Recently, researchers have discovered scientific reasons for perceived differences between boys and girls that help explain why girls aren’t diagnosed as being autistic as often as boys. Genetics research has identified 50 genes linked to autism and may discover more. According to Joseph Buxbaum, director of the Seaver Autism Center, believes “Autism is highly genetic, and a big part of the genetic risk is inherited.” Thus, due to having twice as many genetic mutations as boys, girls have a much higher genetic threshold to be autistic than do boys. So, to a considerably extent, girls are shielded by genetics from autism.

Earlier studies found that cells involved in the brain’s process of synaptic pruning, known as microglia, are thought to be involved in the development of autism. Recent research from the University of California finds that microglia differ in number and behavior in boys versus girls, and the genes that cause microglia to develop are more active in males, especially in the months before birth.

Studies in Australia discovered that couples with an autistic child are as much as 25 percent more likely that their next child will be autistic, and boys are at least four times more likely to develop autism than girls. Not only do more boys develop autism than girls, their symptoms are often more severe. Thus, boys are often diagnosed far earlier when they can receive better supportive services. That Tookie’s autism was never diagnosed is now more easily understood.

<Next time brain differences between normal boys and girls and those with autism>

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marijuana Makes Sperm Swim in Circles

Women desiring to become mothers just got something more to worry about and those who don’t can breathe a little easier based on the findings of Canadian researchers. Dr. Victor Chow, of the University of British Columbia, said “The weight of the evidence is that marijuana probably has a negative impact not only for sperm counts but sperm function.”

Earlier studies found that marijuana can affect fertility by cutting sperm count and suppressing ovulation in women. What’s new is that these researchers observed the sperm of regular cannabis users to “mellow out” and “swim in circles.”

Lest the user think swimming in circles is unusual behavior for sperm, scientists have known for a while that they often do just that. However, they blamed it on “their erratic, asymmetric tail propulsion.” Sperm’s exceedingly long tails, smaller than the width of a human hair, will buckle trapping the cells in a circular loop if the semen or vaginal secretions they find themselves in is too viscous. This is true even if the sperm are swimming perfectly.

This past March, researchers from England’s University of York reported that they had discovered a mathematical formula to describe the “rhythmic movement of a sperm’s head and tail.” This “particular rhythm pulls the head backwards and sideways to create a jerky fluid flow.” Analyzing the approximately 55 million spermatozoa found in a single sample made creating a mathematical model all the more difficult. These seemingly counterproductive movements of the head and tail stir the fluid in which the sperm is surrounded in such a way as to reduce the friction and allow it to move forward.

To make matters worse for our intrepid sperm, women can unknowingly have hostile mucus in their vaginas. If the pH is too acidic, the sperm will be immobilized, unable to swim and will die shortly. Too little mucus and sperm will be like fish out of water and die. Artificial lubricants, including saliva, are often deadly to sperm as are some types of bacteria that grow in the vagina.

The best help a woman can give these poor sperm is to moderate sugary foods, alcohol and white flour products, drink lots of water throughout the day and to extend foreplay to help her body produce natural lubricants with the exception of cunnilingus which is to be avoided.

So, if a woman not wanting to get pregnant is into one-night stands and prefers going bareback, the best preparation she can make is to dehydrate, eat a bunch of Twinkies, drink a lot of booze, minimalize foreplay, excepting cunnilingus, which is encouraged, and share pot brownies with her Galahad for the night.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4846328/Marijuana-makes-men-s-sperm-lazily-swim-circles.html

Sperm swimming rhythm

Softcover Release & Trailer Are Out Now

 

OTSF front cover w outlineI had planned on writing about the effects of marijuana on fertility, a topic of some importance to both men and women of child-creating age, but the print version of Only Tim Sent Flowers was received yesterday, pushing the sexier topic off until next time.

A little before 7:00 p.m. yesterday, a Saturday, I saw the familiar brown UPS truck pull up my driveway. Surprised to see him at that time on that day of the week, I trotted out to greet him, thinking someone must have sent some financial papers requiring a signature that I wasn’t aware was coming. It turned out that he had the shipment of books I had ordered from my publisher, Black Opal Books.

Seeing the surprised expression on my face, the driver said, “Saturdays are a regular work day now.” It seems that UPS has contracted to deliver Amazon Prime packages within the shorter timeframe that comes with paying for that service.

But you say that I bought the books from Black Opal Books and not from or through Amazon. That is entirely correct. What has happened is that UPS hates to operate inefficiently. That means if they are running a truck on a route to deliver some Amazon prime shipments, they don’t want to send out a half-full truck. So, they also deliver any packages they have on hand for people on the route instead of waiting till Monday. I was the beneficiary of this policy.

This was good timing because I had been working on a book trailer and had it almost ready to make public. Because of a recent hardware failure that forced me to acquire a new computer that runs Windows 10, something I had been avoiding for years. One of the numerous shortcomings of Windows 10 is that the Moviemaker program has been eliminated. So, I had to acquire and learn a new program.

For reasons too complicated to go through here, I got Pinnacle Studio 21. It is harder and more complicated to learn and use than Moviemaker but has some nice features. The one I like, but don’t understand, is Scorefitter. I’ve only used it once, for a soundtrack in the book trailer for Only Tim Sent Flowers. Check it out and tell me if you like it or not. It can be found at: https://youtu.be/vAHvbJ7MEac

 

 

Coming of Age Novel Released

The second edition of Only Tim Sent Flowers, the first of the three-volume Tookie series (so far), is being released this coming Saturday by publisher Black Opal Books in both ebook and print formats. Heavily revised to focus on Tookie’s coming of age, this version should appeal to younger (meaning over 16) readers in and about to enter their New Adult period as well as traditional readers of books with female protagonists. Told in first person POV (Tookie’s perspective) from an intelligent high-functioning Asperger’s who lives in her head, she shares her innermost thoughts (that she seldom reveals to others) with the reader.

Books may be pre-ordered from Black Opal Books and Amazon.com. Those interested in writing reviews can contact the author at GeorgeQKaplan@gmail.com.

Manuscripts for the second and third titles in the series, Finding Mr. Wrong and Tookie Goes Undercover have been completed and were recently sent to the publisher. No release dates have been set. With that writing, editing, rewriting, editing, etc. complete—at least until a publisher’s editor gets her hands on them—I should have time to tend to my blog more faithfully, especially since the newspapers have been filled with so many topics with potential.

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Big Brother Monitors Women’s Orgasms

A recent article on Consumerist.com reveals intrusion into private sex lives that even Orwell didn’t think of. Fortunately, the government, in this case, didn’t outlaw sex and wasn’t doing the spying. It was a private company. In fact, an Illinois court (always a good place to file a product liability suit) fined Standard Innovation, maker of We-Vibe 4 Plus vibrators $3.75 million for its spying. That’s has to be enough to get the manufacturer of a specialty product’s attention.

It seems unlikely that all $3.75 million will be collected from the class-action suit because individual customers may not be willing to identify themselves to claim the $199 due those who simply bought a We-Vibe 4 Plus. Users of the accompanying We-Connect app may be more willing because they are due about $10,000 each. Why the difference, you ask?

The app allows the vibrator to be controlled via cell phone with a Blue Tooth connection. Such things as mode and intensity can be adjusted from the cell phone screen. For a better explanation see: http://we-vibe.com/app.
Where the company got in trouble was for intercepting and capturing on their servers data regarding customers’ use of the vibrator such as when and for how long and which settings they selected.

How many people, especially women, will be willing to publicly acknowledge that they not only use a vibrator but which model they use for a mere $199. App users may find $10,000 more enticing. One would expect that there will be more takers for this amount.

Recent Wikileaks releases suggest that the U.S. government may have the ability to gather the same, if not more, data than did the Canadian company that sells its vibrators worldwide.

Hackers Goldfisk and Follower demonstrated at Def Con 24 conference in Las Vegas how the We-Vibe 4 Plus can easily be remotely activated by anyone who can intercept it with a paired smartphone because the Bluetooth communications between the device and its controlling app aren’t secure.

By now some perverts in the government have already hacked these devices to make mischief. Spies will soon be intercepting the same data that is being sent to the company’s servers and using it to blackmail or at least embarrass people.

New Novel Completed

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My second (third chronologically) novel in the Tookie series, Tookie Goes Undercover, has been completed and submitted to my publisher. This humorous women’s lit with sex and adventure starts with Tookie leaving her emotional wasteland of a husband of twenty years. Love affairs don’t work out and downsizing from the job she loves, leaves Tookie vulnerable to demands from the company and the government to put her numerous skills to work in an undercover operation.

Comments from beta readers have improved it immensely. One reader who enjoyed it asked me how many euphemisms I used for vagina in this book. Having no idea, I perused the text and recorded them on a spreadsheet. Noticing that I’d used numerous other euphemisms as well, probably because Tookie is such a sexual woman, I also logged all the words used for penis, breasts, intercourse, oral sex and masturbation. The first page of the spreadsheet has a column for each category with euphemisms listed in the order they appear in the book. Each category has its own sheet with its euphemisms sorted in alphabetical order. Open the spreadsheet here:  euphemisms

If you’re interested in reviewing Tookie Goes Undercover email me at GeorgeQKaplan@gmail.com. While I wait for a contract from the publisher to arrive, I must get back to writing the third (second chronologically) Tookie book, working title Finding Mr. Wrong.

The Great Bra Size Inflation Mystery

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For reasons known only to themselves, news sources have chosen to publish articles on women’s bra cup sizes, possibly to increase their readership with teenage boys. No other reason comes to mind other than under-the-table payments from plastic surgeons. Perhaps the most illustrative of these articles comes for the UK’s Daily Mail.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3746109/Target-Map-releases-map-average-breast-sizes-world.html

The first question I have is something very fundamental: is there an international standard for bra cups sizes? My guess is, like for other clothing sizes, national or regional standards exist but are not religiously followed by manufacturers. Why would bra cups be any different?

Assuming an international standard exists, personal observation suggests that the Daily Mail’s findings are grossly inflated. Their map shows the women from the Scandinavian countries and Russia as having average cup sizes larger than D cup. It would seem logical if so many million women needed larger bras, E cups or larger would exist and be listed.

My limited exposure to Western European women didn’t suggest that their breasts are smaller than American women’s. The vast majority of my observations of women from all countries were taken with their clothes on. So, if anything, my views would be inflated because I had no way of knowing if women wore falsies or other enhancements or not. If large numbers were employing such things, average women’s breast sizes are even smaller than I thought.

No way do I think the average Western European woman is a C cup or an American women a D cup. Teenage boys learn that A Cups are nearly flat, B’s are nice, C’s are pretty large, and D Cups are huge. Women I’ve dated were generally A or B cups. My personal favorite had perky B cups more nicely shaped than any I’ve ever seen on a pinup. Unfortunately, her personality didn’t match her mammaries.

Checking for other data on the topic, I found something on Answers.com that seems more reasonable to me in response to the question, What is the average female breast size? Invigilator – 007, Senior Supervisor – Senior Mentor (whatever these titles mean) answered “35.9 inches or a 34B. Obviously breast size varies greatly from person to person, however bra manufacturers reported about 44% of bras sold ranged from 34B-36B.”

While B cup as an average for American women seems reasonable to me, there is apossibility for the Daily Mail’s results to be correct: bra manufacturers have colluded in a form of grade inflation as seen on college campuses. They have simply relabeled their bras. AAs are now As, As are now Bs, and so on. If bra cup sizes can be falsified, nothing is sacred.

Bra cup size map

Gingers Do Have More Skin Cancer

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redhead-770x500British medical researchers have found a gene variant associated with skin cancer. Lead researcher Dr. David Adams of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire has identified the MC1R variant as affecting the type of melanin skin pigment produced with the result that the person’s skin is more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. People having this variant produce less eumelanin and more pheomelanin than others. The eumelanin protects skin from damage by UV rays but pheomelanin doesn’t. People with mostly pheomelanin tend to have red or blond hair, freckles and fair skin that tans poorly (read burns easily in my case).

Researchers found that even people with only one copy of the gene variant have more tumor mutations than those without any copies of it. On average people with MC1R gene variant have 42% more sun-associated mutations in tumors.

What all this means is that if you have this gene variant you are much more likely to have melanoma from exposure to the sun’s rays. Who are these vulnerable people? Red-haired people often have two copies of the gene variant burn easily and can get melanoma more easily than non-gingers.

The results of this study are more important to Brits than most people because 6% of the UK population are redheads compared to from 1% to 2% worldwide. It may be even more important to the Irish of whom 10% are estimated to have red hair.

It’s no accident that the British Isles have such a concentration of red-haired people according to the 2012 ScotlandsDNAproject which found that Celts’ flaming red hair is a reaction to gloomy weather. Red hair and pale skin are a genetic adaptation that allows the body to absorb more vitamin D on rare sunny days.

Another way of thinking about it is that red hair, freckles and personality traits that go along with them offset the cool, dank and dreary weather of England, Scotland and Ireland.

 

Seeking Early Readers

I’ve just finished a new adult novel about Tookie’s early adult life and am seeking early readers  to comment on it before I submit it to my publisher. A synopsis follows. If you’re interested in reading the manuscript, email me at GeorgeQKaplan@gmail.com.

Shortly after moving yet again, this time to a small Midwestern working-class mill town in 1965, the then guileless teenaged TOOKIE beguiles the boy next door, both figuratively and literally. TIM, Mensa-bright but from a large dysfunctional family on her street, works in the machine shop at the bullet works after failing to  keep his scholarship at a large private research university, accidentally sees Tookie and instantly recognizes the bookish, red-haired, freckle-faced girl as the woman of his dreams.

Mary Louise (TOOKIE) loves her name but dislikes the nickname her doting father gave her for reasons long forgotten and by which everyone but her mother and Tim address her. Her father works as an itinerate cost accountant on a short-term heavy industrial project in the area before moving on to another project in North Jersey. He makes too little to afford decent whiskey, which limits the frequency of his binges, but her cash-strapped unhappy mother of five, turns on her drinking lamp every afternoon and guzzles beer from oversized bottles until she can hold no more. “I had a good mother until four p.m.,” recalls Tookie who never drinks anything stronger than cranberry juice.

Old-fashioned Tim feels wanted for the first time since fourth grade when his grandfather died. Tookie savors his attention and basks in his adoration. She thinks she’s very ordinary on the outside—and boys generally agree with her assessment—until Tim finds her devastatingly beautiful. She considers herself extraordinary because of her superior intelligence. Their bliss ends in six short months when Tim’s draft board reclassifies him 1-A. Two months later, in May 1966, he leaves for Air Force boot camp.

While Tim is overseas, Tookie moves to a wealthy North Jersey suburb in her senior year to find herself behind her new classmates who, if not as smart as she is, are better schooled and much more affluent. She frantically treads water to complete. Over the summer after she graduates, her only sister marries, Tookie turns eighteen and, Tim returns, still hooked. Tookie takes a clerical job and longs to enlist in the sexual revolution. Tim denies her sex; she withholds her love. ZELDA scoops up Tim and Tookie stays behind when her parents move to Massachusetts.

Free of parental and Tim’s limitations, Tookie moves into her own apartment and scrupulously studies The Joy of Sex. She seduces the first man from work to show interest. After dumping him, she hones her skills on young airmen on their way to Vietnam. She’s not excited about intercourse but delights in giving oral sex and quickly becomes a virtuoso. Seeing her meager earnings limited without a degree, she enrolls in a statistics program at the nearby state university. She sleeps across—not up, because she believes women who screw for advancement are whores—the roster of men at the pharmaceutical company where she works days while studying nights and weekends, alternating between textbooks and sex manuals. Squeezed between outstanding bills and little income, she accepts a shadowy businessman’s offer to be his sugar baby. Three years of monogamy and hard work lands her a B. A. magna cum laude. Life is perfect until her sugar daddy disappears without a word.

Tookie falls hard for the sophisticated middle manager, so hard she perfects the Shanghai Squeeze to delight Isaac at the climax of a week-long Las Vegas statistics conference. Isaac moves in immediately after returning from the tryst. His lawyer soon slaps him with the cold, hard facts of 1977 New Jersey divorce law. Isaac scampers back home to wife and country club life. Inconsolable after hearing Isaac say, “all the right things,” her phone rings. It’s Tim.

Tookie invites herself to visit Tim who, in the intervening years, finished his bachelor’s degree, ended a disastrous marriage to Zelda, and now operates a one-man office in Pennsylvania. Tookie seduces Tim with her world-class oral sex and leaves him reeling Sunday afternoon, thinking he’ll never see him again. On work on Monday, Tookie can’t bear seeing Isaac and returns to Tim. Apparently recovered by midweek, Tookie shocks him with stories, some true, of her sexual escapades. Now twenty-seven, with Tookie’s biological clock ticks audibly, she seeks a father for the daughter she craves. Could she convince Tim to impregnate her?