5 Surprising Things Joel Stein Now Knows About Masculinity

Joel Stein's new book Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity hit stores yesterday. On Friday, we're going to give away a copy. For now, here are a few things he learned about the world of masculinity while researching the book.

When you put off learning how to be a man for 37 years, a lot of things shock you. Like that real men don’t smile. Or talk. Which made learning from them more difficult. But by watching and listening and focusing on not getting hurt, these are some surprising facts I learned about the world of masculinity.

1. You Cannot Shoot A Turkey You Happen Upon
Part of becoming a man included learning to hunt my own food, but I quickly discovered there’s a hunter’s code you cannot break. It’s considered way beyond bad sportsmanship to kill a turkey you see. That’s not “the game.” The game is to pretend you’re a hot female turkey that wants to have sex with a male turkey by making horny turkey noises and scratching the ground in really slutty ways. It's only when an excited male turkey approaches you for sex that you are then allowed to shoot him in the face. This is far more civil. I am not sure turkeys see it that way.

2. Being Choked Out Doesn’t Involve Choking
While training to go a full round with UFC fighter Randy Couture, I was choked out twice, professionally. I learned that being choked out doesn’t actually involve any choking. Instead, the choker aims to block the chokee’s blood from traveling through the carotid artery, causing the brain to lose oxygen and shut off. This is supposed to be nicer, but I don’t know. Both times, I feigned falling asleep to get out of it. And both times it hurt like hell.

3. The Current Health Care System Doesn’t Work… for Firefighters

During my 24 hours with a house of firefighters in Los Angeles, I only got to go to one fire. And it was at a sushi restaurant. After it closed. Yes, they brought the arson unit in. But mostly they spent all day on ambulance calls. When they take someone to the hospital – and they have to take anyone who calls 911 and asks to go to a hospital no matter how much they actually don’t need to go to a hospital – the firefighters have to wait not only while the person gets checked in, but until they see a doctor. I also learned that firefighters are indeed much better looking than you or me, and I don’t think that’s how we should be selecting our life savers. Restaurant hostesses, sure. People who save our burning homes, no.

4. Lamborghinis Are Hilarious
Part of becoming a man meant driving a Lamborghini Superleggera for three days. Obviously. And what you may not know is a Lamborghini makes anyone who sits in it giggle. Everyone from my three-year old to writer friends couldn’t help giggling when the Lambo took off like a rollercoaster. It’s also the only car - to my knowledge - that comes standard with a fire extinguisher in the back. Though, to increase my manliness, I have now put one in the back of my yellow convertible Mini Cooper, next to the baby seat.

5. The Easiest Way To Get a Break In Boot Camp: Fainting
After less than three hours in army boot camp at Fort Knox, before I had done any physical activity whatsoever, I fainted. Admittedly, it was a Kentucky summer, I had barely slept, people were screaming at me, and no one had told me not to lock my knees. After fainting, however, everyone stopped yelling at me, plus I got to drink a Pedialyte and sit by a refreshing fan. For anyone starting boot camp, I recommend fainting as soon as possible.

Stop by Friday for your chance to win a copy, or order yours right now.

Which Terrestrial Planet?
You Can Sip Coffee and Play Games While This Helmet Scans Your Brain

Brain scanning is a delicate operation, one that typically involves staying very still. Researchers use imaging techniques like magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging to get an idea of how the brain functions and what neurons are being activated, but it's not an easy task. Current scanners are huge, requiring patients to sit unmoving inside them, lest their head movements mess up the data. There may soon be a better way—one that would allow patients to act normally while still getting reliable data.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the UK report in Nature that they've developed a prototype brain scanner that can be worn like a helmet, one that can generate reliable data even if the subject moves.

It uses lightweight quantum magnetic-field sensors held against the scalp by a 3D-printed helmet that's custom-made for the patient. For the study, one of the researchers volunteered to be the patient and was fitted with a white plastic helmet that looks kind of like a cross between a Roman Centurion helmet and a Jason Voorhees Halloween mask. She was positioned between two large panels equipped with electromagnetic coils that cancel out the Earth's magnetic field so that it doesn't interfere with the magnetic data picked up from the brain. As long as the patient stayed between the panels, she was free to move—nod her head, stretch, drink coffee, and bounce a ball with a paddle—all while the scanner picked up data about on par with what a traditional scanner (seen below) might gather.

A man sits inside an MEG scanner.

The more flexible scanning system is exciting for a number of reasons, including that it would allow squirmy children to have their brains scanned easily. Since patients can move around, it could measure brain function in more natural situations, while they're moving or socializing, and allow patients with neurodegenerative or developmental disorders to get MEG scans.

The current helmet is just a prototype, and the researchers want to eventually build a more generic design that doesn't require custom fitting.


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