Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Whatever happened to the iceberg that sank theTitanic?

By Alasdair Wilkins
Whatever happened to the iceberg that sank the Titanic?

Exactly one hundred years ago today, an ocean liner struck a block of ice and sank in the North Atlantic. The story of the ocean liner has been told hundreds of times. This story is about the block of ice.
The photos you see up top and down on the left are quite possibly the only known photographic evidence of the actual iceberg that struck the Titanic. Understandably, nobody had bothered to snap any photographs while the ship was actually sinking, so it's impossible to make an absolutely confirmed positive identification. But both photographs feature the telltale sign of a collision with a ship, and likely a recent one at that: a streak of red paint.
The photo up top was taken by the chief steward of the German ocean liner SS Prinz Adalbert, which on April 15 was sailing through the North Atlantic mere miles away from where the Titanic had sank the night before. At the time, the chief steward hadn't yet learned of the Titanic's fate, so he wasn't even on the lookout for icebergs. He simply spotted a streak of red paint along the iceberg's base, which most likely meant a ship had collided with it in the last twelve hours.
Whatever happened to the iceberg that sank the Titanic?

This next photo was taken by a Captain De Carteret of theMinia, one of a few cable ships - vessels ordinarily used to lay deep sea cables, such as those for telecommunications - sent to the site of the shipwreck to recover corpses and debris. The captain claimed this was the only iceberg in the area, and the red paint was again a clear sign that a ship had recently struck it. There's some disagreement over whether this was the only iceberg in the area, but it certainly seems likely that something had hit it, and the odds are good that that something was the Titanic.
If you were to trace the story of the Titanic to its earliest human origins, you couldn't really go much further back than 1907, when the White Star Lines first drew up plans to build the three largest ocean liners the world had even seen:OlympicTitanic, and Gigantic, which was later renamed Britannic and sank in the Mediterranean during World War I. From conception to sinking, the Titanic really only lasted about five years, although obviously its memory has endured far longer.
But by comparison, the iceberg began its slow journey to the North Atlantic over three thousand years ago. Again, we can only guess at the exact details, but the story likely began with snowfall on the western coast of Greenland somewhere around 1,000 BCE. After a few months, this snow has been turned into a more compacted form called firn, which then over subsequent decades is compressed into dense ice by the weight of newer snow on top of it.
The frozen water in these glaciers is slowly forced further westward towards the sea. When they finally reach the coast of the Arctic Ocean, the lapping tides break off chunks of the ice, and icebergs are calved from the glacier, some thirty centuries after their source water was first deposited. The iceberg that sank theTitanic began its journey as a rough contemporary of King Tutankhamun, entire civilizations rising and falling while it made its slow march to infamy.
Whatever happened to the iceberg that sank the Titanic?

But once all that's done, the iceberg's life was a short one. We know that because theTitanic sank in the North Atlantic, rather than the Arctic, which means the currents must have taken it far south of where it was calved. Starting on the Greenland coast, it would have moved from Baffin Bay to the Davis Strait and then onto the Labrador Sea and, at last, the Atlantic.
The Titanic iceberg was one of the lucky ones, so to speak, as the vast, vastmajority of icebergs melt long before they reach that far south. Of the 15,000 to 30,000 icebergs calved each years by the Greenland glaciers, probably only about 1% of them ever make it all the way to the Atlantic. On April 15, 1912, the iceberg was some 5,000 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
The water temperature on the night of the Titanic sinking was thought to be about 28 degrees Fahrenheit, just below freezing. Such a temperature was of course lethally cold for all those passengers who had been forced to take to the open water to escape the sinking ship.
But such temperatures are far too warm to sustain icebergs for very long. The average life expectancy of an iceberg in the North Atlantic is only about two to three years from calving to melting. That means it likely broke off from Greenland in 1910 or 1911, and was gone forever by the end of 1912 or sometime in 1913. In all likelihood, the iceberg that sank the Titanic didn't even endure to the outbreak of World War I, a lost splash of freshwater mixed in imperceptibly with the rest of the North Atlantic.

Friday, July 6, 2012


5 Scientific Explanations for Game of Thrones' Messed-Up Seasons

By George Dvorsky
5 Scientific Explanations for Game of Thrones' Messed-Up Seasons

We real-world Earthlings take for granted that the seasons will change on schedule. Our planet's clockwork-like seasonality allows us to predict the passage of time with complete precision, and we can always be sure that spring is right around the corner. The same cannot be said, however, for the unlucky inhabitants of George R. R. Martin's Westeros.
Why is this? And what are the possible scientific explanations for Westeros' long, unpredictable seasons?
A unique feature of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire world is its extreme seasonal variability. Summers and winters have an indeterminate length, leaving its citizens wondering how long the current season will last — and how long they may have to endure the next one. At the opening of Game of Thrones Season Two, the good folk of the Seven Kingdoms learn that the summer, which has lasted seven years, is coming to a close, and with it, the onset of what could be a very long and bitter winter.
This makes for some pretty great fantasy, but is this actually possible? And is there any chance that variable-length seasons as portrayed in Game of Thronescould eventually happen on Earth?
The answer is yes. And in fact, there are at least five scientific explanations that can help explain what's going on in the Seven Kingdoms.
1. A wobbly planetary tilt
Earth's seasons are caused by the tilt of its axis of rotation - a 23.4° offset of the axis to be exact. The direction of the Earth's rotational axis stays nearly fixed in space despite the fact that we're also revolving around the Sun. As a result, depending on the Earth's location during its orbit, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, causing us to experience summer. Half a year later, when the Earth is on the opposite side of the Sun, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun, resulting in — yes, you guessed it — winter. The seasons are, of course, reversed for the southern hemisphere.
The seasons themselves are the result of shifting daylight exposures. In temperate and polar regions, the seasons are marked by changes in the intensity of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface. The less sunlight, the colder it is. Makes sense.
It's important to note that the Earth's axis of rotation is extremely stable. If it wasn't, the Earth's tilt would be very wobbly, resulting in inconsistent and unpredictable seasonal lengths like the ones portrayed in Game of Thrones.
But thankfully we have the Moon. Or more specifically, we have a very large moon. The Earth's moon is disproportionately large compared to other planetary satellites in the solar system. And without it, there might not be any seasons, or the seasons could be very different than what we're used to. The Moon has the effect of stabilizing the tilt of the Earth's rotational axis. Without it, Earth would be a wobbly mess.
Now, back to Game of Thrones — in the episode "The Kingsroad," we learn that Westeros has at least one moon. It's very possible, therefore, that they have a very small or distant moon, that is causing a variable tilt in their planet's rotational axis.
It's interesting to note that, according to legend, Westeros used to have two moons, but "one wandered too close to the sun and it cracked from the heat" pouring out a thousand thousand dragons. Well, dragons aside, it's conceivable that some kind of cataclysmic celestial event could have wiped out their second moon, which would have thrown their planet's rotational axis out of whack.
As for our situation here on Earth, we're not completely immune from this problem. If our moon got knocked out of its current orbit, say by a massive object or a nuclear explosion, we would be in quite a bit of trouble.
2. An extremely elongated orbit
It's a commonly held myth that the Earth's seasons are caused by its changing proximity to the Sun. This makes sense from an intuitive perspective; the Earth is in an elliptical orbit around the Sun, which would indicate that the further it is away from the sun, the colder it would be. Hence, Earth's location at the aphelion point (the farthest point from the Sun) would indicate winter.
But this is not the case. Earth may be in an elliptical orbit, but it's practically a circle. Our distance from the Sun at the aphelion point has virtually no impact on the Earth's climate, though some experts believe that it may account for the southern hemisphere's moderate winters.
Now, that said, not all planets have a near-circular orbit like the Earth's. Mercury, for example, has the largest orbital eccentricity of any planet in the solar system at 0.2056 (compared to the Earth's 0.0167). The closer to zero the orbit is, the closer it is to being circular.
In Game of Thrones, it's very possible that Westeros has a very eccentric or elongated orbit. Unlike the Earth, their world could be extremely far from its sun at the aphelion point, which would explain the long and severe winters. Conversely, during perihelion, the planet would have a prolonged summer. Our very own Mars experiences this kind of thing; it undergoes wide temperature variations and violent dust storms every year, when it reaches perihelion.
The problem with this theory, however, is it doesn't explain the unpredictability of the seasons. The citizens of the Seven Kingdoms would still experience consistent yearly cycles and fixed length seasons, even if they would be longer than what we're used to here on Earth. So this theory, at least on its own, is not a very good explanation.
3. A complex Milankovitch cycle
The Earth is subject to some significantly longer orbital and axial trends. Variations in orbital eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earth's orbit can determine climactic patterns that can take tens of thousands of years to play out. It takes about 26,000 years for Earth's axis to complete one full cycle of precession (the change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body), while at the same time the Earth is orbiting at a variable speed. The combined effect of these two phenomena creates a 21,000-year astronomical season. This is what is referred to as a "Milankovitch cycle."
This extreme long-term seasonality slowly changes the climate on Earth, typically resulting in colder winters in the Northern Hemisphere. It's thought that Milankovitch cycles are what's to blame for Earth's past ice ages. And anthropogenic global warming notwithstanding, current models suggest that the current warm climate may last another 50,000 years.
All planets have their own Milankovitch cycle which affect the weather and seasons in unique ways. Mars's polar caps vary in size on account of orbital instability related to a latent Milankovitch cycle. And Saturn's moon Titan has a 60,000 year cycle that changes the location of its methane lakes.
Looking at the situation in Game of Thrones, it's possible that Westeros's Milankovitch cycle is quick and complex. If this is the case, their seasons would be subject to variations in both length and severity — exactly the sort of thing that is seen in the series. Such long-term trends could be predicted when analyzing the physics of it, but it's nothing the planet's medieval-stage observers could measure or anticipate.
4. Oceans, currents, and winds
Any given region's climate is profoundly influenced by such factors as its latitude and proximity to large bodies of water. Take the South Pole, for example. It is in the middle of Antarctica, and a considerable distance from the moderating influence of the southern oceans. The North Pole, on the other hand, is in the Arctic Ocean, and its temperature extremes are buffered by the water. The result is that the South Pole is consistently colder during the Southern winter compared to the North Pole during the Northern winter.
Ocean currents and prevailing winds can also have an impact on climate, and they themselves are subject to cyclical variations. Currents like El Niño and La Niña impact on regional climates across timescales as long as five or more years. The power of Canada's warm Chinook winds are largely unpredictable, but their impact on the Prairies is significant.
The Seven Kingdoms may be subject to these sorts of long-term weather trends. The geography of their world may be considerably different than Earth's. Westeros may contain larger oceans, bigger mountains, stronger currents and more powerful prevailing winds — all of which would combine to create fairly unpredictable and long-term weather trends.
It's worth noting that global warming and rising ocean levels on Earth are stunting the ocean currents. Some experts believe that this could indeed result in a new ice age.
5. A combination of all factors
It's also possible, of course, that it's through a combination of some or all of these factors that Game of Thrones' seasonal variability can be explained. As shown, seasonality and climate are clearly the result of many factors.
Regardless, it's time to bundle up. Winter might be coming.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Crimes Against ChildrenWhy do some people want to hurt children?
By Dan Eden for viewzone.com
This article deals with child predators and pornography. Although the examples shown in this article are legal, they may be offensive to some viewers. We show them only to make a point of the type of content currently allowed on the internet. Thanks for understanding our motives.
In late March of 2009 a beautiful little 8 year old girl was missing from her home in Tracy, California. Reports stated that she left her home to play at a friends home, then was returning home -- but never arrived. Surveillance cameras at the trailer park where she lived showed the petite child skipping happily in front of her home just hours before she apparently vanished.In the age of television, little Sandra Cantu was featured nightly on Headline News (CNN) with an assortment of family photos and videos. America watched as her distraught mother begged for her return as speculation mounted that she had likely been abducted.
Interviews with police and FBI agents revealed that, if an abducted child is not found within the first several hours after being reported missing, the child is almost always found dead.
True to the profiles of abduction, little Sandra's body was found in a suitcase, thrown in to a nearby farm aquaduct, on April 6th. Autopsy reports indicated that she had been "raped" with a foreign object. Eventually, to everyone's surprise, the alleged perpetrator was not a man but a 28 year old woman -- a Sunday school teacher -- who lived just doors away from Sandra's home. The murder was a shock to everyone but it reminded me that we need to know more about the kind of person or persons that can commit such an act of pure evil.
Who could do this?
Criminal profilers tell us that the people who harm and kill children are suffering from what psychologists call pedophilia. The primary motive of these attackers is sexual and the subsequent murder usually results from fear of being "revealed" by the victim. One might think that the attacker would know that molesting or raping a child will result in severe criminal penalties before they commit the crime, but often the attackers claim that murder was an "after-thought" which they did not initially intend to do. Psychologists explain that the sexual urges of pedophiles are so strong that the consequences of their actions are not thought out until their urges are gratified -- when it is unfortunately too late. So this brings us to ask, what is a pedophile?
According to wikipedia:

The term pedophilia or paedophilia has a range of definitions as found in psychology, law enforcement, and the vernacular. As a medical diagnosis, it is defined as a psychological disorder in which an adult experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), pedophilia is specified as a form of paraphilia in which a person either has acted on intense sexual urges towards children, or experiences recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty. The disorder is frequently a feature of persons who commit child sexual abuse; however, some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia. In strictly behavioral contexts, the word "pedophilia" has been used to refer to child sexual abuse itself, also called "pedophilic behavior".
What makes a person a pedophile?
Most human adults have a psychological preference for the opposite sex of child-bearing age. This would appear to be "hard wired" in the brain for the continuation of the species. Any deviation from this norm is viewed as "unnatural," since sexual intercourse between a man and pre-pubescent child results in no offspring.
Most psychologists had, until the last decade, traditionally grouped homosexuality with pedophilia as a form of pathology. Both are still considered "evil" by many church goers and moralist and who believe these sexual orientations to be matters of "choice." Why anyone would choose to become a homosexual, with all of the social condemnation, has always been a mystery and this concept has recently been seriously challenged.
With regards to homosexuality, it has been proven that brains have gender. As many scientists suspected, homosexuals appear to have aquired specific parts of their brain -- specifically the hypothalamus -- with traits of the opposite sex. In simple terms, male homosexuals can have a male body, but the part of their brains responsible for sexual preference is female. The opposite appears true for lesbians.
In the case of homosexuality, the abnormality seems linked to maternal stress during the first trimester of pregnancy. Stress produces androstendione in the shared placental blood of the mother and child. Androstendione strongly resembles testosterone and interferes with the early development of the hypothalamus and causes this part of the brain to develop characteristics of the opposite sex responsible for sexual preference.
So it's not a choice.
I wrote about this a few years ago and I was tempted to describe this as a "birth defect." I received hundreds of e-mails from homosexual men and women who resented this lable. I understand this and so I have been resigned call it "natural." But what can one say about pedophilia?
What causes pedophilia?
In a Dutch book about treatment, written by Bernard ten Hag, a psychologist, he argues that pedophilia is a matter of choice:

"Pedophilia: A word that better may replaced by pedosexuality, because what offenders do with children is contrary to what most people understand as love. Pedophilia is not on the same level as homophilia or heterophilia, because pedophilia is not a preference but a choice." (Hag 2004)
Is pedophilia a choice?
There is remarkably little that is known about this condition. Most of what psychologists know is based on statistics and family histories obtained during therapy of criminal offenders. While this is helpful, it really only profiles those who act on their impulses and does not describe covert pedophiles who harbor these feelings but never allow them to be expressed -- except in fantasies.
Here's what we know:
Having a powerful or controlling mother has been shown to be a dominant factor. In theory, the male pedophile develops an aversion to adult women and their percieved power and focuses on younger, more passive females as the object of sexual preference. Some regard pedophilia as the result of a distorted need to dominate a sexual partner. Since children are smaller and usually weaker than adults, they may be regarded as nonthreatening potential partners. This drive for domination is sometimes thought to explain why most pedophiles are males. In one blog, a convicted child sex offender wrote:

"From my experience of being mothered - I hate mothers. Even now typing the word on my keypad makes me feel like wretching. But I know that my experience is not the same as everyone else, I cannot generalise form my particular experience."
Next up is a history of sexual abuse as a child. Statistically, one third of pedophiles say that they were abused growing up (Cloud, April 2002). Some researchers attribute pedophilia to arrested emotional development from the trauma of abuse; that is, the pedophile is attracted to children because he or she has never matured psychologically.
The most frequently assessed neuropsychological characteristic has been general intelligence or IQ. Some investigators have compared sex offenders against children with noncriminal community control groups, finding the sex offenders to score lower in intelligence (Langevin et al., 1985). Other investigators have compared sex offenders against children with men convicted of nonsexual crimes, thus controlling for their status in the legal system and any antisociality. The offenders against children again scored lower (Hambridge, 1994)
Most experts regard pedophilia as resulting from psychosocial factors rather than biological characteristics. But this assumption has some flaws.
Pedophilia is one of the more common sexual pathologies; the large worldwide market for child pornography suggests that it is more frequent in the general population than prison statistics would indicate. Together with voyeurism and exhibitionism, pedophilia is one of the three pathologies most commonly leading to arrest by the police.
The onset of pedophilia usually occurs during adolescence. Occasional pedophiles begin their activities during middle age but this late onset is uncommon. In the United States, about 50% of men arrested for pedophilia are married.
The frequency of behavior associated with pedophilia varies with psychosocial stress. As the pedophile's stress levels increase, the frequency of his or her acting out generally rises also.
Pedophilia is more common among males than among females (about 10%). In addition, the rate of recidivism for persons with a pedophilic preference for males is approximately twice that of pedophiles who prefer females.
Little is known about the incidence of pedophilia in different racial or ethnic groups.
A biological cause?
Despite all the efforts to treat pedophilia, the brain mechanisms that cause this disorder still remains a mystery. A new study published inBiological Psychiatry demonstrated how pedophilic patients responded to functional brain imaging.

During the test, the screening showed that brain area hypothalamus responsible for regulating of sexual arousal and hormone release was reduced in pedophilic patients. The activation of this brain region in individuals who are not pedophilic would normally be heightened when they look at sexually arousing pictures of adults.It means that pedophilic patients have little response in pleasure areas of the brain when they view sexually arousing pictures of adults, thus it may predispose them to change their sexual interest. John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry says that understanding the neurobiological peculiarities of this disorder should be taken into account to find a treatment.
Canadian researchers discovered that men with a primary sexual attraction to children have a much higher likelihood of being left handed than the general population. This research suggests that there is a neurological component to pedophilia, since left-handedness appears to be biologic. Some scientists speculate that it might be a case of right-hemisphere dominance more than a particular region, such as the hypothalamus, that provides a predisposition to pedophilia.
Right-hemisphere dominance might also be the result of faulty connections in the brain. If the brain can not integrate input from both hemispheres, as a normal brain does, perhaps this problem with connectivity allows one hemisphere to dominate control of the mind. According to new research released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), a study utilizing MRIs and a sophisticated computer analysis technique compared a group of pedophiles with a group of non-sexual criminals. The pedophiles had significantly less of a substance called "white matter" which is responsible for wiring the different parts of the brain together.
In my previous article of left-right brain activity I showed the unique characteristics of each human brain's left and right hemisphere. I will list these again here.

One interesting theory suggests that right-brained individuals are more child-like and so tend to be adolescent or even pre-adolescent in their thinking. While these traits are considered positive in creative writing, the arts and tasks involving fantasy, they might also lead one to have an affinity for children who utilize these same traits. It has also been suggested that being left-handed creates stress and trauma at an early age -- living in a world of right-handed people -- and that this can also contribute to the previously described "arrested emotional development."
How common is pedophilia?
Pedophilia is running rampant, not only in the US but all over the world. Children are being sexually exploited by a pedophile at the rate of 1 out of 6 boys before the age of 16 and 1 out of 3 girls before the age of 18 (1 out of 4 before the age of 14). As a result, some psychologists are attempting to describe pedophilia as a valid sexual orientation.
Dr. Fred S. Berlin asserts that, "It is likely that no one would choose voluntarily to develop a pedophilic sexual orientation. Those with such an orientation have no more decided to have it than have any of us decided as children to be either heterosexual or homosexual." Berlin also defends the classification of pedophilia as a mental disorder, stating, "In our society, to have a pedophilic sexual orientation can create both psychological burdens and impairments."
Richard Green was involved in the removal of homosexuality from the DSM list of mental disorders and is now actively trying to have pedophilia removed as well (Gieles, 2002). Green believes that pedophilic feelings are normal.
One quarter of "normal" people are said to feel attracted towards children and more than twenty five percent react with penile erection to pedophilic stimuli. Green also states that one can not reasonably argue that one quarter of the population is mentally ill (Gieles, 2002). Considering these statistics it seems sensical to conclude that pedophilia is not a mental disorder. However, the one quarter of the population that react to pedophilic stimuli do not necessarily act on their urges.
Child pornography
The huge amount of child pornography on the internet speaks volumes about the popularity and frequency of pedophilia. Although so-called hard core pronography is aggressively combatted by the governments and police of most countries, a suprisingly large amount of "soft pronography" (non-nude) remains accessible to the public and claims to be protected under the articles of free speech.
While I am not stupid enough to download any "hard core" pornography depicting children, I did use a simple google search (try "preteen" and "models") to locate sites such as the one pictured below.
This site, depicting girls as young as 5 or 6 in their underpants, in supposedly erotic poses, was just one of hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of web sites in which parents apparently sell images of their scantily clad children to anyone with a MasterCard or PayPal account.
A button named "links" brought me the page below. Once again a reminder, this material is declared "legal"! The site contains the following "legal notice":
Site contains works of Art that demonstrate admiration and appreciation of beauty and style. All content submitted on this site was prepared and belongs to Model Agency. Given material - images of outstanding models dressed in fashionable and exclusive clothing - was produced in compliance with norms of Law and Morality.

If you come across any web sites like this I suggest that you write down the URL -- the web site address (beginning with "www...") and use one of the following links to report this. Remember, these people believe this is "legal" and claim these are "modeling" web sites. By complaining you will help to shut them down and stop feeding these desires:
Elsewhere, I noticed an article in alternet.org recently which described the "in vogue" phenomenon where adult women are now pandering to the desires of men by having their pubic hair removed (the so-called "Brazillian" look) and their vaginal labia surgically reduced to resemble pre-pubescent girls. Apparently the whole world is harboring pedophilic fantasies!
So why do some pedophiles hurt children?
After all, this is the reason for writing this article. But the answer is still illusive for me. I can only be reminded of something I read years ago when studying the great philosopher, Plotinus. Though he was not describing pedophilia, he made an observation of evil that seems to make sense.
The soul forgets its value and learns to dispise itself. The one consists in showing her the low value of all the things she [the soul] at present esteems. The other consists in instructing and reminding her of her nature and worth. The second argument preceeds the first and once it has been made clear will support the first." -- Enneads VI -- Chain of Realities, Book 2 Plotinus.
In other words, the pedophile has to repress the strong desire to fantasize about children as a valid sexual object. This desire can never be socially accepted and so continues to cause psychological (and perhaps even spiritual) conflicts that are resolved by diminishing the value of the desired object -- in this case the child -- allowing the opposite feelings to be expressed. Love turns to hate. Gentle affection turns to violence. The internal war of morality and ideology becomes expressed as action.
Indeed, as was the case of Sandra's murderer, subsequent acts often allow the perpetrator to be caught, as if they wanted to finally rid themselves of the guilt.
The more our culture sexualizes children with things like Barbie and Bratz dolls, inappropriate "lolita" web sites, fashions hyping sexuality, and allows such things as "sexting" (sending pornographic images of teens and pre-teens over cell phones) the more we feed this apparently innate sexual fantasy of children in a large chunk of the human population. We set a double standard. While the fantasy of children as sexual objects is being encouraged and the expression of the resulting desires is simultaneously being repressed we may unfortunately expect to see more cases such as little Sandra Cantu in the news.
What do you think about this?
*See Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Sep 15;62(6):698-701. Epub 2007 Apr 2.Pedophilia is linked to reduced activation in hypothalamus and lateral prefrontal cortex during visual erotic stimulation.
Orthodox Jewish Community Struggles With Abuse Allegations
Alleged Victims and Advocates Say Sex Abuse Common, Rarely Discussed

May 5, 2009
SHARE When Joel Engelman was 8 years old, he says, he was called from his Hebrew class to the principal's office at his Brooklyn yeshiva, a Jewish religious school. His parents had recently told Rabbi Avrohom Reichman that their son had been abused by an older boy at the school, he says.
Joel Engelman, pictured as a child, and Tamir Weissberg said they were victims of sexual abuse by members of the Orthodox Jewish community. They said they were told not to discuss the alleged abuse. (Courtesy Joel Engelman and Tamir Weissberg)But he says the rabbi was not offering to help that day.
When Engelman arrived at the principal's office, he says, Reichman told him to close the door. He told the boy to sit on his lap and began swiveling his chair back and forth, Engelman says. Reichman then touched him, moving from his shoulders down, Engelman claims.
The same kind of abuse went on twice a week for several months before he left the school, Engelman claims in a civil lawsuit filed against the yeshiva, the United Talmudical Academy.
For more than 10 years, Engelman, now 23, kept what he says happened to himself. He left the orthodox community and found new friends. It wasn't until about two years ago, when he says he heard that other boys allegedly had been abused by Reichman, that he tried to do something about it.
But Engelman says the response from religious leaders has been just as disturbing as the alleged abuse. He claims the school's religious leaders told him not to go to the police, and promised to remove Reichman from the school, which they did for a few months.
"They kept telling me, 'Don't go to the police, don't do anything. We've dealt with this before,'" with other teachers, he said. "It really shocked me."
A few days after the statute of limitations for Engelman to file a civil or criminal case against Reichman for abuse passed, the school reinstated the rabbi, the lawsuit claims.

Engelman's is among a handful of publicized cases of alleged abuse within the insular Orthodox Jewish community. But alleged victims and their advocates say it is far from an isolated instance.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office, which last month announced a hotline for alleged Orthodox sex abuse victims, says it has 19 active cases of alleged sex abuse in the borough's Orthodox Jewish community. And advocates say the problem extends beyond Brooklyn.
"If you're a pedophile, just go to one of the orthodox communities. You're probably safest there," said New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, himself an Orthodox Jew. "It's sad for me to say that, but it's true."

Viewzone || Comments?

Great article. As a social worker I once asked about the treatment for pedophilia and was told there was none. Criminal offenders are often chemically castrated with drugs like depoprivera or are given shock therapy but even these dramatic programs do not change or kill the desire -- only the ability to act on the desire. I always thought that this indicated it was a, as you called it, "hard wired" problem in the brain. We certainly need more research on this.
Kevin G, Houston

It's no wonder our culture has so many deranged people hurting children. We have pre-teen beauty contests and manufacture childrens underwear with sexy saying on them, make-up for children and then, after teasing people with this sexuality we come down hard if anyone even looks at a child. We need to get smart and sto projecting our own needs and desires on our kids before its too late.

I note that in Islam it is OK to marry and have sex with a child. Even the Torah condones this kind of thing. Is it possible that our modern culture has made a taboo out of something that is quite natural?
For example, I once lived in France where you can look at a woman's breast and its perfectly natural. People don't go buying magazines or staring at naked women because they show their breasts. But here in America that is considered a taboo and so it has made American males go insane over a woman showing her breasts. See what I mean? By making something a "sin" or "taboo" you actually create the desire to do it.
A girl can get pregnant as early as 10 or 11. I have read that by age 9 it has happened. If this is the time of biological fertility then why does society arbitrarily set the age of consent and adulthood to 18 or 21? This seems un-natural to me. Anyway...
Katrina F.

To Katrina... I understand what you are saying and I agree with you mostly. Back a few decades ago the life expectancy was just 40 years old so a female had to have children as soon as she was fertile. But today we have made sex an act that is hidden and, as you say, a taboo. Regardless, that being the case, we as people must adjust to the new morality lest our children be harmed psychologically. Also, rape is not the same as sex. I'm sorry but it just isn't. If a child feels no pleasure from the act then it is just being used and it is an act of violence.
Beth from St. Louis

Beth, I agree with you about rape. But often children play at sex so it is not always a matter of not having pleasure. It's hard to generalize but what I am hearing you say is that we should prohibit sex and make pedophilia a taboo because most of society feels it is bad. For the sake of the children we should err on the side of the modern morality. But if you look at the advertising and stuff you see there is a double standard. It's so F****d up!
Katrina F.

Dan Eden - I am a happily married man with children of my own but I must be honest in saying that these images had an effect on me. I've never seen this type of material before and hope I never do again. It's a dark part of the human psyche that is best kept far away from the public. But it did make me think about what I considered "normal." How can we eliminate thism if it is indeed "legal"?
Neil G.

Thank you for telling the story of pedophilia. I suffer from this affliction although I have never acted out onmy fantasies. I guess I am a closet pedophile. Nevertheless it has caused me lots of problems in my life. I am middle-aged and not married. I have absolutely no sexual desire towards adult women and so I will face the rest of my life alone. I am afraid of getting close to children, even my friends kids, because I feel these urges and struggle to control them. It took years for me to forgive myself for being this way and, like the article, I realized it was not my choice. But although I accept myself for having this problem I feel isolated from other people and even more alone. I wish there was a cure but it's much too late for me. Thanks for the information though. I hope people will do some research in the future.

So women are supposed to have fake implanted breasts which exaggerate adult femininity from the waist up, but pre-teen genitals from the waist down! It's our own damned fault! We women should never let men control our bodies and lives.
Ruth B.

Good article with some information I have not found anywhere else. I also found the porn on google very easily and am shocked that this is not outlawed. If you read the texts on the sites you posted it is even more obvious that this is not art or fashion as they say. The parents of these kids should be brought to justice.

We live in California just a town over from Tracy where little Sandra was killed. We have all tried to understand why someone would kill a beautiful and loving child like that. Thanks for explaining why this can happen. I hope people wake up and stop this because it is happening so much everywhere now. What kind of people are we becoming? I pray Jesus will save us from ourselves soon.

There is enough child pornography and non-subtle forms of porn out there. It's not necessary to give someone drugs to experience the high to tell them that it's wrong to do drugs. Offering a glimpse of child porn on your site, is not necessary to tell viewers the horrors of it.
Maybe someone should do a tally of how many people have become MORE interested in viewing child pornography as result of innocently coming to this site to find out about the planets or something else? Don't expect an honest answer. If you are going to have this on your site, have the decency to cover the exposed vaginas. Although I'm not shocked at the lack of good judgement in the name of "education", I am appalled that you took no time to decently cover the body parts that innocent people who want to know about pedophilia have to view because they wanted to read the article. It's not offensive, it's downright stupid on your part to offer this as a form of "education".

For "littlekiddie":
I understand your point and it was much debated by the editorial staff. I can assure you that no vaginas are showing, although it may arouse such fantasies in some viewers. We decided that the issue was serious enough to shock people so that the laws permitting this kind of material would be challenged.
It was a difficult article to write and some of the staff still feel uncomfortable about it.
One of the staff is curious about your email address? You can see how easy it is to be paranoid about this whole issue. Thanks for your constructive comments.
editor / viewzone