The Lancet, the esteemed journal of the British Medical Association recently printed a letter from Claes-Goran Ostenson of the Department of Molecular Medicine, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden which received a certain amount of coverage in the press.
Doctor Claes-Goran Ostenson (I presume he or she is a doctor) was keen to bring to a wider audience the tale of a patient who he refers to as a "previously healthy 50-year-old scientist and the father of two children" (Although why his age and procreational activities are relevant I don't know, perhaps he is trying to establish credibility.)
Said patient claimed that he was using his laptop computer on his lap, was aware of a "burning feeling" and the very next day "he noticed irritation and oedema of his penile prepuce" and there were blisters, which later broke and "developed into infected wounds that caused extensive suppuration." I'm not sure what all that means but it sounds painful enough. The "story should be taken as a serious warning against use of a laptop computer in a literal sense" warns Doctor Claes-Goran Ostenson. Well yes.
But it is not news that computers produce heat and that laptops aka notebooks do the same. A quick bit of research reveals that the US company Orbitron International Co. Ltd even manufactures a specific cooling device to ward off the evils of over warm thighs (or at least they did in 2000) and that many people swear by a strategically placed slab of chipboard. Even so it seems hard to credit that our middle-aged Swede didn't have some fore-warning of the terrible injuries he was inflicting on himself; perhaps the odor of smouldering polyester should have given the game away?
It sounds suspiciously like our scientific Swede didn't tell his doctor the whole story. Perhaps he was fond of typing up reports au naturel or perhaps he was engaged in some more bizzare autoerotic practice too embarassing to reveal. ( "Err, doctor, it was me laptop, honest.)
The real story is that The Lancet, or to be more exact the PR people who work for The Lancet love this sort of thing. There is nothing better than a good old penile injury story to get some column inches in the national press. Last time around I think it was the one about vacuum cleaners; insertion of member into nozzle, damage subsequently caused and excuses invented for how-it-all-happened-by-accident when I was vacuuming the house in the nude. (Which is obviously ridiculous; men never use vacuum cleaners to actually clean anything irrespective of their state of dress.)
And of course if there's nothing in that line available, there's always the old standby of the weird and wonderful objects that people are wont to insert into their backsides that won't come out again and the excuses they give for how they got there in the first place.
And the press, the responsible and respectable side of the press lap it all up. Any old chance to mention genitalia is fine by them when it comes with the imprimatur of the British Medical Association. How else would they work sex into the news without being accused of sleaze.?