Kathryne Robinson | The Observer Jessica Keating and Brett Robinson discuss the effect of pornography and birth control on sex culture.Robinson began the talk with an explanation of humanity’s relationship with nature.“Plato subscribed to the view that the work of the craftsman when making an artifact is, in fact, to imitate nature’s craftsmanship,” Robinson said. “From this starting point of imitation, human sexuality, in the modern age, has been rendered somewhat broken, fragmented and disconnected from nature.”Keating described how “the pill” — hormonal birth control — represented one such way that our social understanding of sex has been radically changed.“We usually talk about hormonal birth control, not in terms of technology, but in terms of women’s health, social health and environmental effects,” she said. “But we’d like to suggest that the pill is part of our technological ecology. … We might not think the pill is a mind-altering drug like LSD, but it is mind-altering in that it changes social consciousness. It gives us a new consciousness about sex, both on the individual level and socially.“The pill promised this kind of freedom — the freedom to have sex based solely on choice and pleasure without the risk of pregnancy. This is the first time in history that sex is systematically disassociated from human reproduction.”The experience of sex, Keating said, has become increasingly “episodic” in modern culture.“The episodic nature of sex is facilitated by the pill — you can move from partner to partner with ease, without commitment,” she said.Keating shifted her focus to the technological paradigm of our current culture, which, she said, cultivates forgetfulness of the self and fetishization of the body.“Pornography exists within this ecology of depersonalization and fragmentation,” she said. “It’s an immersion or merging of the self into technology. … It’s not just a question of eliminating porn — which we should — but it’s also a question of critiquing the social environment and this virtual ecology that allows pornography to flourish as a billion-dollar industry.”Robinson elaborated on the effects of the technological paradigm we now face. The rise of social media and digital communication, he said, has led to a removal of “all the parts of human communication that make it human.”“This environment that we’ve lived in for now two decades has become increasingly discarnate or disembodied,” Robinson said. “The body in one sense is fetishized, and in another sense forgotten, because we can literally immerse ourselves in environments that don’t actually require our bodies to be there.”Tags: pornography, Students for Child Oriented Policy, White Ribbon Against Pornography Week, WRAP As White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) week wraps up, the Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP) hosted an event exploring modern-day relationship culture. The lecture, delivered by Brett Robinson and Jessica Keating — director of communications and director of the Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives, respectively — focused on the ways that porn, birth control pills and changing views on sex have “fragmented” popular notions of relationships, love and identity.
U.S Forest Service turns to Cow PowerRUTLAND, VT. – The U.S. Forest Service, seeking to reduce its environmental impact, has enrolled its Rutland headquarters in CVPS Cow Power(tm), the nation’s first manure-based farm-to-consumer energy program.”We work hard to improve the environment every day, so it’s natural that we’d want to lessen our environmental impact through Cow Power,” said Forest Supervisor Meg Mitchell. “As we looked at ways to reduce the impact of our energy usage, enrolling in CVPS Cow Power(tm) had a great impact. We are supporting a working landscape, helping to improve water quality and removing methane from the atmosphere.”Central Vermont Public Service (NYSE-CV) President Bob Young praised the Forest Service, which will pay approximately $2,100 more for electricity per year due to its enrollment. The funds, paid through a 4-cent premium on 25 percent of the Forest Service’s electrical usage, will go to farm-producers who supply renewable energy, other renewable products, or incentives to help more farms get into the energy business.”The Forest Service’s enrollment makes a bold statement,” Young said. “We hear a tremendous amount about green energy, sustainability and the environment, but the Forest Service and other Cow Power enrollees are backing up their talk with concrete action and funding that actually helps expand renewable energy development in Vermont.”The impact of enrollment is clear. Based on the Forest Service’s energy usage, CVPS Cow Power(tm) will provide substantial benefits. By capturing methane on Vermont farms and producing enough electricity for the Forest Service’s enrollment, the air emissions impact will be equivalent to removing 30 vehicles from the roads for a year. Put another way, it would take a 114-acre pine forest to capture and store carbon dioxide to have the same environmental impact.”The environmental effects from our enrollment are dramatic, but equally important, we want to set an example for our employees and the general public,” said Mitchell.The Forest Service joins 4,000 other CVPS customers in the program, which is expected to add its fifth farm producer within three weeks.The Cow Power process is simple: manure and other agricultural waste are held in a sealed concrete tank at the same temperature as a cow’s stomach, 101 degrees. Bacteria digest the volatile components, creating methane and killing pathogens and weed seeds. The methane, which is roughly 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere, fuels an engine/generator.CVPS customers can choose to receive all, half or a quarter of their electrical energy through Cow Power, and pay a premium of 4 cents per kilowatt hour. It goes to participating farm-producers, to purchase renewable energy credits when enough farm energy isn’t available, or to the CVPS Renewable Development Fund. The fund provides grants to farm owners to develop on-farm generation. Farm-producers are also paid 95 percent of the market price for all of the energy sold to CVPS. For more information, visit www.cvps.com/cowpower(link is external).CVPS Cow Power(tm) has been repeatedly honored since its creation in 2004. The program won the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in 2005-2006 and the Finalist’s Commendation in the 2007 Edison Electric Institute’s annual Edison Award competition, named for Thomas Edison. In January, “Power Magazine” named CVPS Cow Power(tm) one of five “Top Plants” worldwide.
Pittsburgh’s Trey McGowens (2) looks back for teammates as he celebrates while leaving the court after defeating number 11 Florida State in an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Pittsburgh. McGowens scored 30 points as Pittsburgh won 75-62. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)While you were sleeping, the Pittsburgh Panthers’ men’s basketball team has taken the college basketball world by storm.No, seriously.It’s hard to imagine that just one year ago, there were so few people attending Pitt games that you could hear the Pitt players conversing on the bench.Just one year ago, Pitt had lost their sixth straight ACC game in a row, en route to losing 18 straight conference games, plus an ACC tournament game on March 6, 2018 for good measure.Just one year ago, Pitt had no toughness. No consistent aggressiveness. Players had decided to transfer, such as Cameron Johnson, now starring for North Carolina. Kevin Stallings, who was in his second year as head coach, was yelling at the top of his lungs at his players, but I believe it fell on deaf ears.Pitt, in its first three seasons in the ACC, was 66-37 (28-26 in-conference), with NCAA Tournament appearances all three seasons. In the Kevin Stallings era (2016-17 and 2017-18), Pitt was 24-41, with just four conference wins in 2016-17 and none in 2017-18.Thus, after Pitt defeated No. 11 Florida State, 75-62, on Monday night, Jan. 14, at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland, it’s proof that the college basketball world has their eye on the Panthers.The win on Monday night was their second win in the ACC this year in four tries (they defeated Louisville in overtime on Jan. 9). It was their 12th win of this season overall (four more than all of last year), and they were within range of beating then-No. 15 N.C. State, but fell in the final minutes, 86-80, Jan. 12, in Raleigh.So how did Pitt turn this thing around so fast? First things first. Heather Lyke, the Pitt athletic director, promptly fired Stallings, and hired Jeff Capel, the first African American head coach in Pitt men’s basketball history. Capel commands respect. He was a star player at Duke University. He was a head coach in a high-profile position at Oklahoma, where one of his players was NBA All-Star Blake Griffin. He’d spent the last years as an assistant under Duke coach Mike Krzyewski (pronounced Sha-Shef-Skee for all my non-sports fans). All Coach K is, is the greatest college basketball coach of all-time, in my eyes.Since Capel’s reign at Pitt, some players decided to leave the program. Others decided to stay. Some decided to sign on the dotted line, such as Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens and Au’Diese Toney.If you’ve been drinking the “Will Antonio Brown be a Steeler next year” kool-aid so much that you couldn’t spell Pitt if I spotted you the “P” and the “T”…then wake up.Pitt is good again.“We got some fighters, we got some competitors,” Capel said postgame after his team’s 13-point win over Florida State, Jan. 14. “We feel like we’re gonna fight every time we play.”The ACC is tough as steel (pardon the pun). I’m talkin’ about No. 1 Duke, No. 4 Virginia, No. 9 Virginia Tech, the aforementioned No. 11 Seminoles, No. 13 North Carolina, No. 17 N.C. State. That’s six ACC teams in the Top 25 rankings. More than the SEC or Big Ten conferences. We’re talking the best college players in the country that Pitt must encounter from now until the end of the season.They’ve shown me that they’re ready for the wild ride. It all starts with McGowens. He never backs away from a challenge. He will drive on you. He will dunk on you. He will take your contact. He will go to the free throw line. He will get his points.“I’m fearless, I guess,” McGowens told the media after he scored 30 points Monday night, Jan. 14, in the win over the Seminoles. “No matter how big, I’m just going to compete and we’re just going to have to make a great play. That’s what coach says: ‘make them make a better play.’ That’s really what we’ve tried to do.”Add the X-man, Xavier Johnson, in the mix, and I’m not sure who’s Batman and who’s Robin. The fellow freshman slasher can put a move on you that will have you on Sportscenter for all the wrong reasons; he can knock down a three-pointer from the top of the key; he can somehow get an acrobatic shot to go from down low. To be fair, he’s turnover prone, but his good far outweighs his bad.Toney isn’t a top scorer on the team, but he might be the team’s best defender. Plus, this guy has never heard of the phrase “body fat.” The 6-foot-6 sculptured, tatted-up guard from Huntsville, Ala., is not afraid to get in someone’s grill, and I ain’t talkin’ Foreman. He’ll take a charge, he’ll block shots, he’ll dive for loose balls.“One of the things I loved about them as we got to know them during the recruiting process, and I have said this from the beginning, is that all three of them are competitive,” Capel said after the Florida State game about his three freshmen. “You don’t find that a lot. They are very competitive, which means that they have a toughness about them. And they aren’t afraid. Not one time this year have they been afraid—I don’t think my team has been afraid. We are trying to develop that and make that the culture of this program—toughness, togetherness and fighting every second you are out there.”So, there’s 14 ACC games left in this regular season for the Panthers. Coach Capel has his players’ undivided attention, and the players are giving their coach their all. I’m not Miss Cleo—I don’t know how many more games Pitt will win this season, or if they’ll even make the NCAA Tournament. But one thing’s for sure. You can no longer look on a college basketball map and not find Pitt. They’re making their presence known.“With as many young freshmen that they have on their team, for them to be as focused as they are says a lot about the coaching staff and how hard they’re working with them to give them a level of confidence that it takes to go out and compete,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said about the Panthers. “I think the people in Pittsburgh should be very happy that they have a guy (Capel) who’s come in and kind of brought that swagger back that Pitt’s been accustomed to for over a number of years.” Rob Taylor Jr. is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.