Saturday, April 14, 2007

Your Moment of Zen

WASHINGTON -- Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students -- 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
These programs have cost the American people roughly $170 million each year since the Christofascist regime that is the Bush administration took office. A billion bucks and no difference.


Kids are kids. Hormones are hormones. And study after study has told us that roughly 90% of Americans had sex before marriage, going back to the 40s. When it wasn't uncommon for teens to marry.

Meaning teens had sex, too, even back when white men were king, and blacks and women were oppressed.

That was the backdrop for the sex educaction programs implemented in my youth: people were going to screw, so you might as well soldier up and try to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

"No! No!," said the Pollyannaists. "We can't encourage sex!" What? Of the remaining nine percent? How idiotic is that?

Kids are kids. Hormones are hormones. Those same hormones that make your teenager slam his door in your face when you remind him to do homework are the same hormones at play when he's in the back seat of the family Buick with Dora, the easy cheerleader.

And those same hormones that make Dora "borrow" your lip gloss are the same hormones that put her in the Buick in the first place.

Teens have the toughest job in America, I think: they aren't treated like adults, yet they're expected to act like them. Only they can't drink or smoke or have sex. Imagine having to live your life like that. I bet you couldn't, so why do we expect teens to be any different? Discipline, in fact, comes with age.

I've tried to treat my kid as an adult, ever since she was nine months old and was speaking full sentences (it runs in the family, this articulation). I've had to balance that at times with understanding that some concepts are too difficult for her to grasp at a particular age, but I haven't lied to her when that's occurred: "your brain is not yet developed enough to get this, but...."

Have I been more successful at preventing her from having sex? Don't know. More important, don't care. I DO know that she has access to condoms, without asking for them, from both parents. I do know she's not pregnant (as of this writing).

I was a sophmore in college at her age, and had already been falling down drunk, had sex, smoked pot, smoked cigarettes, fallen in love, fallen out of love, two times, and held a steady job while attending classes.

OK, the "attending classes" bit I could have been more diligent about, but I turned out OK.

But I turned out OK despite this whole rigamarole of trying to dress up like an adult while acting and being treated like a child. So my message to parents everywhere?

Fuggedaboutit! Just help your teen take the precautions that you would on a dangerous trip down the river of life and things will work out.

Abstinence may make the heart grow fonder, but it softens no wood.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Music Blogging

Holiday In Cambodia - Dead Kennedys

Jello Biafra is one very cool guy, very progressive and very upfront about it. He and Henry Rollins should get together and do some shit besides read poetry.

Friday Kitten Blogging


The Media Is The Massage

Finally, the Imus flap is over, to no one's great relief, except maybe Imus. A minor uproar in the American social dialogue has closed, and has seen the fall of a broadcasting icon, as well as the near death of a governor.

Not much positive comes out of this mess, except perhaps the vow by Al Sharpton that Imus will only be the first to go. Praise God if Sharpton keeps this vow, but Sharpton has been a little less than diligent in filling his promises. Lots of mouth, little action, and the scale is more than counterbalanced by how badly he has hurt the African American community with his own hijinks.

And I say that as someone who very nearly voted for him for governor a few elections back.

See, here's the thing: the media gets away with what it gets away with because, in truth, it sells. Imus was not a radio personality. He was a vehicle through which GM and GE and Staples and others pushed product. You listened to Imus and for free, you got more advertising pushed at you. Imus knew this and was not afraid to utilize this equation to his advantage, legally even.

Imus had been on the air 35 years or so, between his New York and Cleveland gigs (among others), and has been fired before for unbecoming conduct, usually centering around the fact he was an addict and just never showed up for work. He must have been doing something...well, not right, but profitable, for big corporations like RCA and Viacom, and later, GE to take chances on his behavior.

Roll the dice. For the last twenty years or so, people have managed to look the other way, or even offer enough grudging support to keep him on the air, toiling in the name of Mammon.

IF the firing of Imus creates an opening that leads to the wholesale clearance of "personalities" from our airwaves like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter (among many others), then I say "Huzzah!" for in truth, Imus was the least among these and probably the easiest to get rid of.

After all, technically, his was a sports show, and partisan politics was a secondary topic. His listeners were less rabid enthusiasts of his views than the Dittoheads and Hannitybots, and put up less of a fight.

These other, filthier, more disgusting proselytizers for perverse pulchritudes, espousing viewpoints of "correctness" that would be more at home in Stalinist Russia than America, won't go as quietly as Imus did.

But go they must, if we are to be true to this mission of making the airwaves safe for democracy. Al Sharpton seems to be vowing to take this boycott movement to the advertisers, taking a page out of the neo-conservative playbook of "if we don't like something, we'll force it off the air," a la Terry Rakolta, and Focus on Family.

I don't see it happening, because what should come out of this incident, the dialogue that really needs to be held, is about respect for people, for differences, for tolerance. And moreover, for understanding that this nation is undergoing an unstoppable transformation from a bastion of white male uberpower, shifting the balance of the world's resources --both physical and ethereal-- to a minority (on a global basis), to one that recognizes that people of all nations and cultures have an equal say in the future of this planet, and that this planet cannot be artificially divided into arbitrary political boundaries.

Ironically, it was the founding of the United States that signalled this evolution.

The media will b a powerful tool in this. We've seen the slow evolution on our TV screens (and its not nearly enough and not nearly fast enough) of anthropologic evidence of this transformation. Right now, it's mostly token gestures, but in the not too distant future, we'll stop seeing tokens and start seeing reflections of the world as it exists outside of our isolated island of immunity from the world's reality.

Firing Imus may, oddly enough, be the trigger for this, but given the power of his voice, if he had truly seen the light (and I suspect he has), silencing that voice may eventually do more harm than good.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Flash Funnies

Skip the intro, and get right to the messies...

Splat The Mat

R. I. P. Kurt

From an actual commencement speech Vonnegut gave in 1999:
Hello. I hope you are all wearing sunscreen.

We must be close to a very powerful transmitter for CNN, right? Anybody know where it is? Anybody know where Jane Fonda is?

In the early days of radio, I remember, people living too close to the transmitter of station KDKA in Pittsburgh used to hear soap operas in their bridgework and mattress springs.

And now CNN News plays such a big part in the lives of so many Americans, including mine, that we might as well be hearing Wolfe Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour in our bridgework and mattress springs.

And I won't lie to you: The news from CNN can be really bad these days.

But I also give you my word of honor that you before me, the Class of 1999 at Agnes Scott College, are near the very top of the best news I can ever hear. By working so hard at becoming wise and reasonable and well informed, you have made our little planet, our precious little moist, blue-green ball, a saner place than it was before you got here.

God bless you and the faculty of this college, and those who made it possible for you to go from strength to strength here. Thanks to all of you, the forces of ignorance and brutality have lost again.

Not that there hasn't been a lot of good news, along with the bad, long before you got here. I am talking about the birth of works of art, music, paintings, statues, buildings, poems, stories, plays and essays, and movies, (you bet), and humane ideas - which make us feel honored to be member of the human race.

What can you yourselves contribute? You've come this far anyway, and it wasn't easy. And I now recite a famous line by the poet Robert Browning, with one small change. I have replaced his word ''man,'' which in his time was taken to mean ''human being,'' with the word ''woman.''

May I say, too, that his wife Elizabeth Barrett was as great a poet as he was:

''How do I love thee'' Let me count the ways…'' and so on.

While I'm at it, get a load of this: The atomic bomb which we dropped on the people of Hiroshima, was first envisioned by a woman, not a man. She was, of course, Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley. She didn't call it an ''atomic bomb'' She called it ''the monster of Frankenstein.''

But back to Robert Browning, and what he said about anyone who hopes to make the world better. Again, I've changed his word ''man'' to ''woman'' for this occasion:

''A woman's reach should exceed her grasp, or what's a heaven for?''

And of course the original ''A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?''

Speaking of women: Pollyanna is not your graduation orator here today. Pollyanna is bound to be speaking somewhere - irrespressibly optimistic, seeing good in everything. So I will comment, as briefly and efficiently as possible, on the perfectly horrible news CNN has been giving us about the Balkans and that high school in Colorado.

I won't go on and on about it. We're here for a good time and we are darn well going to have one.

Others with axes to grind are playing the blame game: blaming the National Rifle Association, the movies, TV, pop music, video games, no prayers in the public schools.

I myself have an axe, which I have ground as sharp as a razor. What would I like to do with it, if I could? I would like to plant it in the forehead of the Babylonian King Hammurabi, who lived almost four thousand years ago.

Hammurabi gave us a code which is honored to his very day by many nations, including my own, and by all heroes in cowboy and gangster films, and by far too many people who feel they have been insulted or injured, however slightly. However accidentally:
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Revenge is not only sweet - it is a must!
What antidote can there be for an idea that popular and poisonous? Revenge provides revenge, which is sure to provide revenge, forming an endless chain of human misery.

Here's the antidote:
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Some of you may know that I am a Humanist, not a Christian. But I say of Jesus, as all Humanists do, ''If what he said was good and so much of it is absolutely beautiful, what can it matter if he was God or not?''

If Christ hadn't delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn't want to be a human being.

I would just as soon be a rattlesnake.

OK, now let's have some fun. Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about women. Freud said he didn't know what women wanted. I know what women want. They want a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything.

What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn't get so mad at them.

Why are so many people getting divorced today? It's because most of us don't have extended families any more. It used to be that when a man and women got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to.

A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys.

But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it's a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it's a man.

When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it's about money or power or sex, not how to raise the kids, or whatever. What they're really saying to each other, though, without realizing it, is this:

''You are not enough people!''

I met a man in Nigeria one time, an Ibo who had six hundred relatives he knew quite well. His wife had just had a baby, the best possible news in any extended family.

They were going to take it to meet all its relatives, Ibos of all ages and sizes and shapes. It would even meet other babies, cousins not much older than it was. Everybody who was big enough and steady enough was going to get to hold it, cuddle it, gurgle to it, and say how pretty is was, or handsome.

Wouldn't you have loved to be that baby?

I sure wish I could wave a wand, and give every one of you an extended family - make you an Ibo or a Navaho - or a Kennedy.

The least I can do is give you health tips. I've already mentioned sun screen. And don't smoke cigarettes, which are as evil as Slobodan Milosovic.

But cigars are good for you. They are so healthful that there is even a magazine devoted to their enjoyment, with cigar-smoking role models on its cover - athletes, movie stars, rich guys. Why not the Surgeon General?

Cigars, of course are made of trail mix, a blend of raisins, cashews, and Granola, which has been soaked for a week in maple syrup. To celebrate the end of your graduation day, why not eat a cigar at bedtime?

No cholesterol!

Guns are also good for people. No nicotine and no cholesterol. As your Congress person if that isn't so.

Incidentally, if somebody asks you whether you are a Liberal or a Conservative, tell'em this:

''Listen, Buster - I'm a graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, zipcode, 30030. They taught me to think for myself there. You want to know if I'm a Liberal or a Conservative? I'm both of those, and neither one.

''Go jump in the lake. Go climb a tree.''

I have so far quoted Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Hammurabi and Jesus Christ. I now give you Sir William Gilbert, of the team of Gilbert and Sullivan:

I often think it's comical
how nature always does contrive
That every boy and every gal,
That's born into the world alive,
Is either a little Liberal,
Or else a little Conservative.

What the heck. While I'm at it, why don't I give you Eugene Victor Debs, the great labor leader who ran for President three times on the Socialist ticket, and who died in 1926, when I was four.

''As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.''

That's worth repeating: ''As long as there's a lower class, I'm in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.''

Wouldn't you like to say that when you get out of bed every morning, with the roosters crowing: ''As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.''

Excuse me. I beg your pardon. I'm receiving signals from CNN in my bridgework - Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour.

Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour say CNN's military consultants are unanimous in feeling that our revenge on the Serbs for their revenge on the Kosovars has gone about as well as could be expected.

The Code of Hammurabi, revenge, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, always works that way -- about as well as could be expected.

Wait a minute. Somebody else is speaking, not Wolf, not Christiane. Whoever it is, and I'll bet she's blond - she's saying I can lose thirty pounds in thirty days, and never once feel hungry.

OK, she's gone now, thank goodness. My bridgework has fallen silent of its own accord. I thought for a minute there, I was going to have to ask somebody for dental floss. High tech! How would that have been for high tech: tuning out CNN with dental floss?

How I love high tech! Forbes Magazine asked a bunch of us a while back to name our favorite technologies. I said the Encyclopedia Britannica on a shelf, because it's alphatetical, my address book, also alphabetical, and the mailbox on the corner. Putting a letter in that mailbox is like feeding a great big bullfrog painted blue. You know what its lid says to me when I close it? ''Ribbit,'' it says.

Don't give up on books. They feel so good - their friendly heft, the sweet reluctance of their pages when you turn them with your sensitive fingertips. A large part of our brains is devoted to deciding whether what our hands are touching is good or bad for us. Any brain worth a nickel knows books are good for us.

Computers are insincere. Books are sincere.

And don't try to make yourself an extended family out of ghosts on the Internet.

Get yourself a Harley, and join Hell's Angels instead.

All right - let's stop kidding around, and get down to the nitty-gritty.

You know what you are, Class of 1999? You are a bunch of Eves, and this is Eden, and now that you've eaten the apple of knowledge you're getting kicked out of here.

Many of you intend to become teachers, which is the noblest of all professions in a democracy. Teachers can be so good for this country, but only if their classes can be cut to eighteen. Teaching is friendship, and nobody can deal intelligently with more than eighteen friends at any one time.

And only well-informed, warm-hearted people can teach others things they'll always remember and love. Computers and TV's can never do that.

A computer teaches a child what a computer can become.

An educated human being teaches a child what a child can become.

Some of you will be mothers. These things happen. If you should find yourselves sidelined in that fashion, remind yourself of these lines by the nineteenth century white male poet William Ross Wallace: ''The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.''

That being the case, you might teach the kid a couple of things it should say every day. ''Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,'' and, ''As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.''

Ideas too unattainable? Class of 1999, let me impress on you that ideas, by their very definition, can never be too high - for children or anyone.

A child's reach should exceed its grasp, or what's a heaven for?

This wonderful speech is already nearly twice as long as the most efficient, effective oration in American history, Abraham Lincoln's address on the battlefield at Gettysburg. Lincoln was killed by a two-bit actor exercising his right to bear arms, but his truth goes marching on.

Up to now, most of what I've said has been a custom job for this Dixieland rite of passage. But every graduation pep talk I've ever given has ended with words about my father's kid brother, Alex Vonnegut, a Harvard educated insurance agent in Indianapolis, who was well-read and wise.

The first graduation at which I spoke, incidentally, was also at what was then a women's college - Bennington, in Vermont. The Vietnam War was going on, and the graduates wore no make-up, to show how ashamed and sad they were.

But about my Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now.

One of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when they were happy; He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, ''If this isn't nice, what is?''

So I hope that you adorable women before me will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, ''If this isn't nice, what is?''

Let that be the motto of the Agnes Scott College Class of 1999: ''If this isn't nice, what is?''

That's one favor I've asked of you. Now I ask for another one. I ask it not only of the graduates, but of everyone here, including President Mary Brown Bullock. I'll want a show of hands after I ask this questions, and keep your eyes on Dr. Bullock:

How many of you have had a teacher at any level of your education who made you more excited to be alive, proud to be alive, than you had previously believed possible?

Hold up your hands, please.

Now take down your hands and say the name of that teacher to someone sitting or standing near you.

All done?

If this isn't nice, what is?

I thank you for your attention.
(Much of this speech both pays tribute to and pokes fun at an internet hoax that Kurt Vonnegut gave a speech in 1997 at MIT)

I haven't read all of his work and no sane person I know will make that claim, because so much of his work never made it out of his brain, locked away. He gave it to us stingily, even if he wrote as prodigiously as he did.

Still, his stories and characters and inventions remain locked firmly in our consciousness: Ice-nine of Cat's Cradle, or Billy Pilgrim, the semi-autobiographical time traveller of Slaughterhouse Five, the themes of self-destruction or the dangers of technology, and the downsides of even the most noble of gestures and ethos.

You live on, sir, in my mind, working as deus ex machina to my posts here. You made me think, no, make me think, because in truth, Mr. Pilgrim, with your head injuries, you're still here travelling in time.

Take A Hike!

This article points out one of the most devastating aspects of American domesticity, the multi-car family:
OSLO (Reuters) - Surging use of cars and planes will push up greenhouse gas emissions in coming decades, making the transport sector a black spot in a fight against global warming, according to a draft U.N. report.

"Transport activity is expected to grow robustly over the next several decades," according to a 101-page technical summary of a draft report by the U.N. climate panel, the most authoritative on threats from global warming.

The summary, to be issued on May 4 in Bangkok at a meeting of scientists and more than 100 governments, says efforts to curb emissions from transport "are faced with many barriers" despite options such as new engine technologies or biofuels.[...]

In some nations such as the United States, Italy and Australia car ownership is already 5 to 8 per 10 inhabitants -- 10 or 100 times more than in developing states.
The report stop short of condemning multi-car families or for that matter, suggesting limiting automobile and truck sales. Transport vehicles account for 26% of greenhouse emissions, according to the draft report (expect this report to undergo some more watering down before its May 4 release).

Admittedly, in nations like the United States and Australia, sheer geographic distribution of people, places and cities make multiple car households inevitable: when it's five miles to the nearest grocery store, you aren't going to walk or even ride a bicycle. However, steps to encourage at least more sane automotive practices could and should be in place. We've had enough warning, from the 70s OPEC oil crises to the global warming warnings we've had: smaller, lighter, and better designed vehicles, as opposed to mammoth SUVs in railroad parking lots ought to be de riguer, and a hefty penalty paid by those who insist on abominations.

I've advocated for decades now that SUVs and pick-up trucks ought to be taxed and insured as, well, trucks. That's what they are meant to be, and that's what they ought to be treated as. Further, I think people ought to be forced to upgrade their licenses to account for the fact that they drive a truck. As someone who has frequently driven parkways (designed for cars) and highways with massive hills, I can attest from personal observation that jamming on the gas pedal may make your truck move faster but it creates significant wear and tear on your engine and transmission and that manuevering a truck on a parkway is akin to making a cow water ski.

But any truck driver could tell you that.

By implementing my plan, I anticipate the demise of the SUV and pick-up, except where absolutely necessary, such as for farmers and others who need the extra carrying capacity. Of a truck. Those folks, however, would pay the extra premium and taxes because they'd need to. Cost of doing business.

And this is only going to get worse, as China and India start to reap the benefits of a growing economy. Of course, Chinese emission standards are higher than the US', even California's, which helps a little.

What is this need we have for mass consumption? Is it media fed? Is it psychological? Is it tautological, in that it appears out of nowhere yet gets self-reinforced in an echo chamber?

Is there, in fact, a sub-atomic particle of the mind that says "me want more"? Phrenology believes that "acquisitiveness" lies on the lower half of the temple, just in front of the ear, which may be why I get headaches watching commercials.

Is greed so vital to our psyches that it can't be soothed merely by possessing more, but more AND bigger? We know greed is an integral part of capitalism, but everyt economic system suffers from greed, so it must be part of human nature: people who live in communist and socialist regimes don't suddenly wake up one morning and start only taking what they need while giving all they can to society.

Gordon Gekko, in the movie Wall Street, speaks the immortal words written by Oliver Stone and Stanley Weiser:
The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.
Which is both true and not true. Greed, it's true, is an efficient taskmaster, but sometimes, along with the fat, it cuts bone and muscle.

And more important, it cuts corners. Life IS greedy, its true. Life is invasive, aggressive and competition for survival is what drives the entire living planet. But greed has coupled with its ideal partner in man. Man is capable of destroying the planet and nearly all life on it.

Maybe this is life's plan, through greed. Perhaps Noah's Ark is an omniscient metaphor for mankind itself, where the bulk of mankind represents the Flood, and Noah represents whatever mechanism (God?) that saves whatever life it can from man's predation and greed.

And maybe, indeed, Greed is God himself. As Zager and Evans put it in Exordium and Terminus:
In the year 7510
If God's a-coming, He oughta make it by then
Maybe He'll look around Himself and say
"Guess it's time for the judgement day"

In the year 8510
God is gonna shake His mighty head
He'll either say "I'm pleased where man has been"
Or tear it down, and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Some advice for Don Imus, from the sage, Lenny Bruce

Balancing Act

One of my major arguments with my militant feminist friends is over cases like this:
The three Duke lacrosse players who faced charges from a sexual-assault case are going to get off the hook, according to a television report.

ABC News reported last night that the office of North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper will announce he is dismissing all charges. The sources did not know when that might come.

Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans were charged with kidnapping and forcible sexual offenses, based on the claims of a dancer hired for a house party March 13, 2006.
You may recall the case: a woman claimed she was hired by the lacrosse team to perform as a stripper at a party, and was raped and sodomized there. Much was made about the disgusting behavior of male teams on college campuses, and rightfully so:
Authorities in Santa Clara County, Calif., are investigating a woman's claim that she was sexually assaulted in December by community college baseball players at a house where police said a 17-year-old girl was raped during a party in March.
Except in the Duke case. The DNA evidence on and in the woman's body did not match the DNA of any of the players she accused, and she identified one of her attackers as a man who video surveillance at an ATM proved was not even at the party at the time the attacks supposedly took place.

Soon, inconsistencies in her story began creeping in. Despite this contradictory evidence and testimony, the DA at the time, Rob Nifong, moved to indict the three men.

Three white men of privilege versus one working class black woman. This story has so many levels to it, it's not even funny. I see where the right wing blogosphere is turning this into "reverse racism," which it clearly isn't: had this been a black football team and a white, or even a black, stripper, I suspect the players would have been in jail, rather than on campus continuing their education. And one could even make this into a classist struggle, that privilege means power means the ability to warp the legal system, but that's wrong, too.

No, this is about a far more troubling prospect: the use of sexual & child abuse laws designed to protect women & children as a tool to harm men.

I have a friend who has a daughter who, when she was thirteen, was ordered to her room for acting out. Her room, furnished with a queen size bed, a telephone, and cable TV with video game system, was hardly a prison cell, yet this child learned something in school about reporting child abuse.

So she called the cops. For nearly a year, this family suffered the indignities of being investigated by the childrens' services bureau, the state police, the local sheriff, submitting to family counseling, individual counseling, marital counseling. The father, in particular, was basically put on probation and ordered to report in anytime he was leaving the jurisdiction, except for his daily commute.

(Side note: this same child grew up and entrapped her husband by getting pregnant, but I digress)

Similarly in this case, three young men, who have now been legally exonerated of all charges in connection with this case, will now go through the rest of their lives, not as champions on a national-class lacrosse team, but as "likely" sexual predators. Their names were plastered all over the news, the Internet, and college campuses. Their lives, while probably not ruined, have likely been tarnished and hurt badly by this outrageous manipulation of the legal system by someone who saw an opportunity to cause mischief, for whatever reason, to draw attention away from herself. Societally, they were convicted the moment their names were publicized.

Think about it: no matter where they go, at some point this story will follow them, no matter how much they try to put it behind them. And for what? For being at a party with strippers.

Yes, I'm well aware of the one stupid e-mail, and no, I'm not condoning that, but in fact, that proves my point: if not for this horrible abuse of a system designed to protect people, you wouldn't even have that piece of evidence to wave about in accusation, and the accusation remains false, despite that piece of mail, so you basically slander someone in support of a slanderous charge.

I've been on both ends of this cycle, the accused and the accuser. It's not fun to know that people are smearing your name, both behind your back and to your face, based on the unbaked crazed statements of a self-indulgent psychotic "victim" who is desperately trying to cover up his or her shortcomings by pointing a finger and raising an alarm. You never really live it down, as I've discovered, no matter how false it is.

On the other hand, it's not fun, far from it, to be suddenly confronted with the helpless terror that abuse victims get during and after their abuse. To feel the violation is to understand, in a flash, the horrible things a human can do to another human being. And you relive it in some form or other, whether you like it or not, whether consciously or subconsciously, whether adult or child, every single day.

One wonders if the only real solution to this crime would be for the three players to sue the stripper for sexual harassment?

Why Blogs Suck....

Each day, I try to find one pithy story to rant and vent my frustration that the world is not as intelligent as I would like it to be (meaning, basically, I'd rather be the stupidest person on the planet while not losing an IQ point), and I get maybe a hundred fifty, two hundred hits.

But post ONE photo of ONE bimbo...So in the interests of fairness and sharing, Targa? Jacq? Anyone else who wants to pump their hits up?

Feel free to copy the photo( has been updated) of Adriana to your blogs...I'll see if I can find clips from the video to post...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

As Career Moves Go....

...I'm not sure if this is a good one or a bad one:
"I wanted to do something a little crazy before I graduate and do become a lawyer ... do something kind of out of character," [Adriana] Dominguez said with a grin as she posed for photographer Andrew Einhorn inside his friend's DUMBO apartment.

"Lawyers can be boring," the 24-year-old later added.

But no one will ever call Dominguez buttoned-up.

The brainy blond with Ivy League credentials was looking for a lark last July when she answered a Craigslist ad for women to appear in the Playboy TV series "Naked Happy Girls."

The episode, called "Rock Star and the Lawyer," aired in January - and was barely noticed.

But in the past three weeks, a 45-second clip spread on the Internet among students and some faculty at almost every New York law school.

What makes this really stoopid, is...
Except for her naughty past, Dominguez has plenty to recommend her: she had a fall internship with the domestic violence unit of the Brooklyn district attorney's office and served as treasurer of her law school's Legal Association of Activist Women.
You might think she'd know better.

Then again, no one's lost money baring their breasts for TV or movies. Except maybe Julie Andrews.

Imus In The Mourning

I stopped listening to Imus a while back. It just became egregiously difficult to listen to the crew of idiots he surrounded himself with in order to take some of the heat off himself in the creative process. People like Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg (cousin of Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota) were atrocious, unfunny and frankly, pretty sad, clearly there only because they'd be dumb enough to give voice to straw men that Imus, as an "opinion maker," was too scared to say himself any longer. And then, they'd piss him off by taking things too far.

Comes last week's debacle. I'm sure you've at least heard something about it, but let me copy over a transcript from Media Matters (video available there, as well):
From the April 4 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.
There's more, a misreference to a Spike Lee reference (give them credit, they've at least watched one black man's films), but you get the drift.

Imus has made his career out of being outrageous, and I'm fortunate, yes, fortunate, to have been able to listen to him from way back in the early 70s. From his "1200 Hamburgers To Go" days, through his "Dr. Billy Sol Hargis" bits, right up until he started hammering Bill Clinton for having sex in the White House.

I think that's when I stopped listening to him, realizing he had sold out his comedic roots and was starting to shill for his best friends, the Republican National Committee.

Too, he started "featuring" guests like Laura Ingraham, Joe Tacopina, Ann Coulter, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, and Bush The Elder, and while I have no problem listening to the responsible views of the opposition, there was more than a hint of the bile and hatred that conservatives feel for the likes of me in those "guests" (well, maybe not Bush).

But here's the thing: he was, and at times still is, funny because he is who he is. In many ways, his comedy and persona informs this blog and my outlook on life. "You don't like me? Fuck it. There are 6 billion other people on this planet, and I don't need you to like me. I have to like me."

Was this joke offensive? Yes. Was this joke funny? No. And having done live radio, my suspicion is that this ended up being a riff that blew up in anyone's face before cooler heads could prevail. We saw into Imus' heart, and there's a dark spot on it.

Having listened to him all these years, I don't think he hates minorities, but on the other hand, I don't think he's the poster boy for National Brotherhood Week, either. I think he just hates most people, flat out, and any time he can find some way to mock them, he will and he's not particularly kind about it.

His "humour" is not limited to minorities: he's made fun of public figures all his career, white, black, woman, man, and if Rutgers hadn't been a black team, I'm sure his cracks would have been about their possible sexual orientation. He's done those kind of jokes before about women's tennis, without this kind of outrage (not that this outrage is unjustified, but I find it curious that suddenly this is the focus of the anger).

Too, the fact that Al "Steven Pagones raped Tawana Brawley" Sharpton and Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson are mixing it up with Imus makes this outrage nearly defensible: if comedians ought to be responsible for their public statements, then certainly people with aspirations to be public servants ought to be doubly so.

From the appearances I've seen, his two hours of being Al Sharpton's punching bag, his many appearances on network news, and his own MSNBC show, Imus looked genuinely confused, and I suspect that he's had an epiphany about himself. His apologies seem genuine, and if he learns something from this incident that's more than papered-over humility, then so be it. It's up to Jesus to forgive him, and maybe so should we. After all, "Thy will be done"...

He's handled tougher truths about himself, as I can attest.

Imus will serve a two week suspension, which I think is an appropriate, if light, punishment (personally, I would have made it thirty days and he should have to shave off that ridiculous mop he calls hair as a reminder of his commenting on other peoples' appearance).

Ironically, this suspension is postponed until Monday morning because Imus is headlining a radiothon fund-raiser at his home station, WFAN in New York, for Tomorrows Children's Fund, the CJ Foundation for SIDS and the Imus Ranch.

None of which specify "whites only". Only sick kids.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

This old straw man is being trotted out now. You might think a complex issue being tackled by a bi-partisan government a year and a half ahead of the next national election would be a good way to gauge the next months' administration of the country, but it's not:
CRAWFORD, Texas -- President Bush returns to work Monday on the volatile issue of immigration, where his hope for a legislative breakthrough is complicated by cold relations with Congress.

Bush will be back in Yuma, Ariz., to inspect the construction of border fencing and to push for the creation of a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The trip serves as a bookend to the visit Bush made to the same southwest desert city last May.

It also comes as tension rises over a new immigration proposal tied to the White House.

Bush's team is privately working hard to rally votes for what Bush calls comprehensive reform -- a mix of get-tough security with promises of fair treatment for undocumented residents.[...]

The plan would grant work visas to undocumented immigrants but require them to return home and pay hefty fines to become legal U.S. residents. They could apply for three-year work visas, dubbed "Z" visas, which would be renewable indefinitely but cost $3,500 each time.

The undocumented workers would have legal status with the visas, but to become legal permanent residents with a green card, they'd have to return to their home country, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate to re-enter legally and pay a $10,000 fine.
Needless to say, as this is somewhat tougher than the bill passed last year, there's been a little opposition to it. Too, for me, it raises the issue of "buying your way" into America. If you take a look how how many Chinese undocumented immigrants make their way here (paying upwards of $40,000 or $50,000 just to be stuffed in a cargo hold, working off their debt at below-minimum wage unterarbeit), you can see that this proposal is fraught with unintended consequences.

We won't be getting the hard working immigrants anymore. We will be getting people who will feel they are owed something for the money they paid, and not just a certificate.

Oh, and that fence? It merely marks the Republican "solution" to a problem: pray it goes away. By putting up a fence, you aren't going to keep people out, only make them work harder to get in, and once in, make it more valuable that they earn a "living". If you're worried about cross-border criminals, well, when you make it so that only criminals would have the mind-set to cross the border...

The Democrats are obviously anxious to put a signature on this session of Congress as a shield in 2008 against the charge that they were only interested in hanging Bush and Karl Rove than in getting things done (even ONE bill of import would make them one up on the last two Congressheep). And naturally, Bush would like to take the focus off his miserable failure in prosecuting the "global war on terror". There's much at stake here, but unfortunately for Bush, there's more at stake for him. His days as an effective voice (such as he is) are dwindling, as he will get less and less air time as the 2008 campaign heats up. Given the way the primary season is being front-loaded, he has even less time than Clinton or any other President had before him.

My guess is that Congress will give him until the summer recess to come up with substantive proposalss for legislation and if he fails to do so, will come back after Labor Day with a full slate of quick-to-pass bills (possibly including the vaunted timetable for withdrawal). By this fall, the GOP Congressheep will have realized their backs are to the wall, and if no progress has been made in Iraq, the issue will fester in their home districts.

We already see this in the positions that moderate Republican senators who are up for re-election in 2008, like Olympia Snowe, are taking: while remaining cautiously behind Bush, you hear a subtext of "move it or lose it, pal".
“I opposed this particular measure because it sets an arbitrary “date certain” for withdrawal of our troops, which presents the terrorists and the insurgents the opportunity to target and jeopardize the security of those troops that remain. If the 120 days referred to a time period that the Iraqi government would have to complete significant work on national reconciliation benchmarks, that is a different matter. In that instance, I would have been more inclined to support this resolution as it would have actually required the Iraqi government to produce measurable results on such key political issues as oil revenue sharing, the fair consideration of constitutional amendments, and the de-Baathification process – all of which go to the root cause of violence in Iraq,” said Senator.
That's from Snowe's Senate website (interesting they don't attribute it to her in that quote...sounds almost like boilerplate). Nothing there that overtly undermines Bush's position, but you'll also notice she makes no mention of "stated American policy", the usual signal phraseology for full-throated support for the administration. Particularly in obvious boilerplate statements.

So for Bush, this really is more of a final exam than a midterm to determine if he can work with Congress. Already, hard feelings on both sides have been uncovered, and if the Democrats cannot override his veto on the Iraq timetable (not impossible, just bloody unlikely), they may be forced to submit a funding bill on his terms (mostly) or be accused of palying chicken with the lives of soldiers.

You might remember the last time a Congress palyed chicken with a president. Newt Gingrich shut down the government for nearly a week, and ended up with egg on his face as Clinton grabbed the bully pulpit and laid the blame squarely on Gingrich's shoulders.

For my part, I would accept Bush's veto and "play chicken," but I'd have already laid the groundwork of placing blame with him for any vetoes.

But that's just me, and I'm only running for (not)President

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why Golf Sucks

Offered without comment, which would be gilding the lilly:
CHICO, Calif. - Elsie McLean thought she might have lost her ball on the par-3, 100-yard fourth hole at Bidwell Park. Instead, the 102-year-old Chico woman became the oldest golfer ever to make a hole-in-one on a regulation course.

Because of the slope of the green, McLean and her partners couldn't see where her ball landed after she teed off.

"Where's my ball?" McLean asked.

Her friends, Elizabeth Rake and Kathy Crowder, found it in the cup.

"I said, 'Oh, my Lord. It can't be true. It can't be true.' I was so excited. And the girls were absolutely overcome," McLean said.

My Easter Sermon

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
Much has been made over the past ten or so years about wearing your heart out on your sleeve if you're Christian, and you had better have the right heart (pun intended) or you'd be savaged in the media.

In truth, although 85% of this nation identifies itself as "Christian", most of us probably are closer in philosophy to Bono than to Robertson. The rigid dogma of the Religious Right is fading finally, although I expect one or two more paroxysms of "true faith" rearing its ugly head before it finally dies once more.

I say "once more" because American history, indeed, world history, is filled with periods of this dogma orthodoxy. Usually right around a milepost like a millennium.

Then things go back to normal for two reasons: one, it's pretty pointless to worry about the end times and two, people grow up a little.

Part of why I titled my own blog "The Non-Rapturist's Guide To The Galaxy" is to dissuade people from thinking that all Christians are loons. Jesus informs my beliefs, He shapes my faith and my life, but He doesn't own it.

Which brings me to what this post is about: Living life in grace.

See, the secret to life is to live in truth. Truth is grace. Truth is the force in which we can find our grace, and in truth, we can find what we are looking for.

To live in truth is to acknowledge that a higher being lives within us, whether you want to call that being Christ, Astarte, the Force, Buddha, whatever. He (or She) sees truth, then speaks truth, then does truth.

And the truth is, we all live on this planet. We all suffer the same fate as everyone else, the same indignities, the same tribulations and the same joys and triumphs. What connects me to you, is what connects you to me, and connects us both to everyone and everything else here and in the universe. ("For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.")

Which is more true than you can imagine. The air you breathe now was once breathed by Socrates, by Napoleon, by George Washington, by Joan of Arc. The water you drink today has passed through Hitler and Jesus, through Julius Caesar and Mother Theresa, possibly even through me.

Sometimes, all we need to do is ask and we will receive. Sometimes, we ask and we don't receive, or don't think we did, because sometimes no is as good an answer as yes. But we also must give when others ask, or else the whole thing falls apart.

And I think this is what my Lord, my Jesus, not the Jesus of Pat Robertson and John Hagee and Ann Coulter, will ultimately judge me on for heaven: did I live in His Grace on earth? Did I understand that what I do, what I ask for, what I give, affects everyone else on this planet? And that life is a zero-sum game, in that what I get means someone else gets less, so its incumbent upon me to give back to that equation?

So what to make then, as a Christian, of Christ's gift? How much must we give back to equalize our part of the equation?

A lot more than we do, I think. A whole lot more. Fortunately, we have the rest of our lives to do it. Seek, and ye shall find, but ye shall find it within you. You are enough.

Happy Easter to you, if it applies, or even if it doesn't.

And don't forget: support me for (not)President!