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  • Donald Symons - Why the Barbell-Shaped Review Distribution?

    Several excellent descriptive reviews, especially that of Rob Hardy, have already appeared here, so there's no point in my repeating that information. (My general assessment of this book can be found above, in the blurb I wrote for the publisher.) Instead, I'd like to provide some additional information for open-minded readers without an ax to grind who are trying to decide whether to buy the book.

    Before Ogas and Gaddam began their research for this book they conducted a survey of an online community of slash fiction fans. ("Slash fiction" is a kind of romance fiction--often very sexually graphic--that is typically written by and for women, in which both lovers are men.) Some slash fans who participated in this survey, or did not participate but came to learn of it, strongly objected to it. These fans are the source of the 1-star reviews, which claim or imply that A Billion Wicked Thoughts was based on, or derived from, this survey.

    I haven't seen the survey and therefore can't comment on its merits or shortcomings, but for the purposes of this review it doesn't matter because (please pardon my caps) THE SURVEY HAD NOTHING WHATEVER TO DO WITH A BILLION WICKED THOUGHTS. How do I know this? Because I read the book. Why don't the 1-star reviewers know this? Because they didn't read the book. All the data used in this book was obtained from publicly available sources or shared with the authors by private enterprises, and all the data is completely anonymous.

    Furthermore, the slash fan community is by no means uniformly hostile to A Billion Wicked Thoughts. In fact, the Foreword was written by Catherine Salmon, who, for more than two decades, has been a member of the slash community as a reader of slash, a writer of slash, a participant in online slash discussion groups, a slash conference participant, and the co-author of a book about slash (I am the second author).

    I would also like to respond to some specific claims made by 1-star reviewers:

    > These two "scientists" were actually asked by the institution they claimed to represent to cease and desist from using their name in relation to this non-IRB approved "experiment." (Skittish)

    > Other raised their concerns with the institution the writers claimed y to be affiliated with, and discovered that their claims of affiliation were made up. (H. West)

    > The very college the two writers worked for pulled their accreditation of the research and disavowed the study. (Jess Idres)

    > One of the people at Boston Uni who was there when they were suspended for their 'research' has published a short expose on Kindle. (J. Davitt)

    Ogas and Gaddam have replied to these sorts of charges in a Q&A on the Freakonomics web site (please see "Comments" for web address).

    For further clarification of these matters I emailed Dr. Ogas and received the following reply:

    "There was no cease and desist from BU, no reprimand or sanction of any kind. This is a complete fabrication. (Where is the evidence? We still have our Boston University websites and email addresses.) Sai was a working post-doc at Boston University and I still retained student status when we represented ourselves as being at Boston University. When we were no longer affiliated with BU we stopped claiming affiliation. We never claimed BU affiliation with the survey or used BU resources. There never was any "accreditation" of the research (I don't even know what that means) so it could not have been pulled. BU never avowed any research, so how could it have been disavowed? We openly state that we intentionally conducted our research independent of any institutional support. We never requested any institutional support."

    I have chaired the Human Subjects Committee (a.k.a. Institutional Review Board, or IRB) at The University of California at Santa Barbara for the last 25 years, and I have no idea what "accreditation" or "avowal" mean in this context.

    I found Dr. Ogas's response to J. Davitt's Kindle charge especially interesting and, I confess, amusing.

    "About the Kindle "expose" by a "colleague" from BU. We created that ourselves as a "honeypot" to ensnare the hostile slash fans. We crafted a ridiculous anonymous document that claimed all kinds of outrageous stuff about ourselves and filled it with nonsensical neuroscience mumbo jumbo that purports to explain why our science is wrong (like "there can be no AND gate in the female hypothalamus because it lacks lateral neurons"). We hoped that the protesters would start citing it as gospel and then we could reveal that we were the authors (the first letters of one of the sentences reads "ogi and sai wrote this satire"), demonstrating that these protesters are relying on anonymous, fabricated, unverified smears. Unfortunately, our publisher insisted we take it down, which we did."

    I hope this information is useful to potential readers of A Billion Wicked Thoughts.

  • Colleen Wainwright "the communicatrix" - The diet that gave me back my life

    A year ago and two weeks ago, I was admitted to the ER with an acute case of Crohn's colitis. I weighed 90 lbs., was running multiple fevers in excess of 104 degrees F, had diarrhea to the tune of 32x/day, had lost two pints of blood and could barely walk.

    After eleven days in the hospital, they gave me a choice: I could stay and receive more aggressive drug therapies (the 60mg of IV prednisone they had me on wasn't making a dent); or I could go home and "see what happened".

    I went home. The next day, I talked my friend through Whole Foods on his cell phone, making him read me every label on the items I needed to begin the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as outlined by Elaine Gottschall in her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. With the last of my strength, I made the soup and some homemade gelatin that form the mainstay of the 2-5 day "starter diet". And each subsequent day, I built on the little ground I had already gained until two weeks later, I was able to go to my doctor without lining my pockets with weights to cover the weight loss.

    Within one month, I was able to do my laundry by myself again. Within three months, I was able to get back to work. Within five months, I was off all of my medications.

    In the past year, I have had one flare, brought on by hormonal birth control. I went on all my meds again, but this time I was able to wean myself off of them in a mere four weeks--I was now that healthy.

    I fought my doctor all the way on this diet. Even with proof of my healing in the form of loss of symptoms, weight normalization and a clean colonoscopy (no pun intended), he, like many practioners of Western medicine, refuse to believe that diet has anything to do with illness or health.

    The diet is simple in theory, if somewhat difficult in practice. The idea behind it is to exclude the foods that disease-creating bacteria feed on in the gut so that these bacteria die off and allow the gut to heal itself.

    Unfortunately for those of us accustomed to the Standard American Diet (or S.A.D.) of highly processed, starchy and sugary foods, this means an exclusion of all di- and polysaccharides: in other words, no refined sugar and no starch of any kind. No pasta, no bread, no chocolate, no potatoes, no sugar. And that includes "hidden" sugar that shows up in virtually all processed foods, even if it's not listed on the label. Bye-bye, convenience foods. So long, thank-you-drive-thru. The list of unacceptable foods is daunting and seems unmanageable at first (and eating out remains a challenge), but it gets easier with time.

    So now, a year later, I still can't eat raw fruit with abandon but I can travel and not get sick. I haven't had bread or pasta or any other "illegal" but I can work, socialize and sleep through the night. My world of acceptable restaurants has shrunk even as my ability to be out and about with seemingly boundless energy has increased.

    I've accomplished things I never dreamed I could twelve months ago. I've helped friends, acquaintances and total strangers find this diet and changed their lives, too. (If you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's and write me, I'll most likely help you, too.) I've learned patience (oh, boy, have I learned patience) and as a result, am more tolerant of quirks in myself and others. This diet didn't just give me back my life; it gave me a totally new one, richer than I ever could have imagined.

    So when people tell me how hard it must be to be on this diet with all of its restrictions, I smile and think to myself, "What restrictions?"

    I've never been freer in my life.

  • N. Ivanova - Great product, high quality and very easy to use

    Very high quality product from Inglesina. I definitely love this brand more and more as I get other products from them. The fabric cleans easily and doesn't wrinkle. It comes with a little hidden carry bag which sits inside of a little pocket (and I actually didn't even realize it was there until the 2-3 time using it). There are few pockets for putting things into. We have used this on many different tables and have not yet found one with which it doesn't work. It is definitely a must have item for us!

  • Elizabeth Royer - Finally an alternative to my high electric bills!

    This is without a doubt the best product I have ever purchased. Granted, I am going through mailmen like angry birds go through pigs but they are being well compensated from what I understand. I have shipped some to a few ex-boyfriends, so if you are reading this and haven't received yours yet, don't worry, it will be on its way soon. Looking forward to going on automatic order with this product because for some reason I keep forgetting to go back and order more. After I retrieve my hair from the bathroom sink, I'm going back to the order page and re-up on this fantastic stuff. I am looking forward to grabbing some of the "people who purchased this also purchased" products as it gives me some great ideas.