Monday, August 29, 2005

Make Mine A Hefty, Please

United States-led abstinence programs in Uganda and other African nations are causing severe condom shortages, leading to unnecessarily high numbers of HIV cases. Some men have even turned to using garbage bags as prophylactics. See the whole story here:

See also my previous post on this topic:

The fight against the AIDS scourge worldwide is not going well and, sadly, the United States is the one compromising victory. We want to stop the disease, but only on our ideological terms.

It's regrettable that while some are attempting to further their own moral agendas, they're directly contributing to the deaths of countless people. The United States needs to show a real commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention, one driven by reason and compassion and not hindered by ideology.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hey, Recruiters, Leave Those Kids Alone!

If you click the “G-Spot” link on my sidebar, the page you’ll come to tells you that you have to verify your age before entering that site. The reason is it’s the site for an alcoholic beverage brewer.

I never used to understood why they did that. The reason for age-restricting porn sites is obvious – they have porn on them. But you can’t swig an alcoholic beverage or smoke a cigarette online, so what’s the big deal?

Well, turns out the company who runs the site can get into trouble for “marketing to minors” if they don’t at least try to restrict access in some way. Hence, the virtually impossible to enforce age verification formality. (A site sitting passively on the Web doesn’t constitute “marketing” to anyone, as far as I’m concerned. But, I digress.)

So, we have established this fact: You CANNOT market a product or service to a person who is not old enough to legally partake of them.

Why, then, are military recruiters allowed to call 16-year-olds? And why are they allowed to set up shop right inside high schools? There seems to be quite a double standard at work here.

There have been a lot of stories in the news in recent months about overaggressive and unprincipled military recruiters. These have often been in the context of lagging recruitment numbers, due undoubtedly to the prospect of service in Iraq.

Some parents have formed groups, such as Leave My Child Alone, to, er… combat overzealous military recruiters. Some states are also trying to limit or remove military recruiters from high school campuses altogether. Federal laws, including at least one section of the No Child Left Behind Act, make that difficult, however. Federal funds can be denied to states and schools that do not accommodate the military with student phone lists, which they use to call up potential recruits.

Recruiting is getting tougher and tougher, and it shows. Monthly goals have been off-target for most branches of the service. That doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon, either. Again, the prospect of dying at the hands of insurgents in Iraq is widely accepted as a probable explanation for this phenomenon.

In response to this challenge, the military is bringing out the big guns: Advertisements. The action movie style of TV spot is giving way to something a little more poignant and profound. Now, the tone is subdued and the message is that parents should encourage and/or allow their teens to enlist. A lot of parents can’t get their teens to wash their hands before dinner, clean their room or come home at a decent hour, some I’m not sure how effective that aspect of the campaign will be.

As a teen I did get a few calls from recruiters. They weren’t the most aggressive guys, but they didn’t give up easily. It’s not like I didn’t know the military existed, and couldn’t go talk to someone if I cared to, though. But I didn’t, and therefore didn’t need the calls.

I remember being really ticked that my school would give away information about me to anyone, but especially to someone who is going to make unsolicited calls to me. Imagine a similar scenario: Your employer sells the staff roster to a local telemarketing firm. That feces wouldn’t fly, and neither should this.

I don’t know if the recruitment slump will turn around anytime soon, nor do I know how successful anti-recruitment efforts will be, given existing laws. I do think it is important for military recruiters to remember one thing, though:

“No means NO!”

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What A Bunch Of Boobs!

The AP today published an unattributed column expressing frustration that Congress hasn’t yet enacted tougher decency standards on America’s airwaves, including tougher penalties for violators, in order to protect the viewing public. To read all the particulars, copy and paste this link:

The FCC recently acquired the services of anti-porn crusader Penny Nance, who’ll act as a “decency czar” for the American airwaves. Could the days of full-frontal nudity, full-penetration, extreme close-ups, male tumescence and “money shots” on your favorite network sitcoms and crime dramas be coming to an end? Say it ain’t so!

The fact is, we have had protection from “indecent” material on TV since the moment televisions were introduced those many decades ago. No one has ever been compelled by law to own a TV, much less watch one, much less watch any specific channel or program.

TVs made in recent years have a parental “lockout” option, enabling parents to deny their children access to objectionable content.

Every show now running on American TV has content-specific ratings and/or warning messages displayed at the beginning. So, if a parent happens to peek into the room when a program is starting, they might see that that show is not really for their kids. Many parents today use TV to baby-sit their kids, yet, oddly, don’t check any references on the babysitter!

True, lockout options and ratings likely wouldn’t have stopped anyone from seeing Janet Jackson’s partial breast exposure during the Super Bowl, but said titillation was quite transitory.

Nonetheless, many parents appeared to have suffered strokes, myocardial infarctions, shock and other unfortunate health effects as a result of the episode. FCC Chairman Michael Powell, son of Colin Powell, was watching the Super Bowl with his family, and was reportedly very traumatized. The brain damage that ensued nearly caused him to later surrender the airwaves to a precious few broadcaster-benefactors, under the delusion that, if there’s one thing Americans hate, it’s variety!

Children, for the most part, seemed to have suffered little permanent damage from seeing Miss Jackson's sun-shielded chest gland. If the sight of breasts were harmful to children, I don’t think we’d be literally pushing them into their faces shortly after birth!

Is it me, or are parents today just making excuses? They’d rather complain than take responsibility for their own TVs. That’s part laziness, but it’s mainly an attempt to force their own narrow views of morality on the rest of us.

It seems as though the television is turning out to be one of the more challenging household appliances for some people. Still, if you can’t work the microwave without initiating the China Syndrome, you probably shouldn’t be allowed near one.

Instead of toughening TV decency standards, I propose we toughen ownership standards. The purchase process for a TV would be akin to adopting a new puppy: You’d only be allowed to walk away with one if you agreed to take responsibility for it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Onward, Christian Slayer: Should The Whacked Decide Who Gets Whacked?

Televangelist Pat Robertson has really stepped in it now.

On the August 22 edition of his Christian Broadcast Network program The 700 Club, Robertson said of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.”

He added that covert operatives could carry this out and save us the cost of a $200 billion war (could the financial reference indicate a rift between Robertson and the president he wholeheartedly backed for reelection in 2004?).

This is the first time I can remember a public figure so unambiguously calling for the murder of another public figure. Robertson did so in a very public manner – live on TV. All self-respecting people should condemn his remarks, but especially those who are his supporters.

This incident reminds me somewhat of when, after the 9/11 attacks, Robertson colluded with fellow Christian soldier Jerry Falwell in blaming feminists, gays, the ACLU, the Druids and Bigfoot for that day’s tragedies.

But this really shows the man’s true colors. Robertson’s 9/11 buffoonery pales in comparison to his advocating the murder of an elected leader with whom he is at ideological odds. I imagine before long, though, Robertson will be saying his comments were misunderstood and people with a left-wing agenda took him out of context for their own political gain.

This incident is a perfect illustration of what I see as the major paradox of the modern religious right. Some of the most high-profile, vocal figures of that ilk are staunchly pro-life, yet espouse pro-war, pro-gun and pro-death penalty stances without a second thought.

Now it looks like we can add pro-politically motivated assassination to that list.

The real paradox is that the message of love, peace and caring for your fellow man today isn’t coming from the Christian sector, despite their stated ideals; it’s primarily coming from the “angry left.”



My Wives And I Object To Your TV Spot

Salt Lake City, Utah’s ABC TV affiliate, KTVX, has refused to air an anti-Iraq war commercial featuring Cindy Sheehan. A station spokesperson stated the ad is “inappropriate” for their city. Apparently, KTVX is taking the Wal-Mart approach and preempting any choice by its customers (viewers) – for their own protection. It already knows exactly what they want to see, and what’s best for them. (Last I heard, Saturday Night Live still isn’t shown on broadcast TV in the city.)

In further explanation, the station asserted that the ad “could very well be offensive to our community in Utah, which has contributed more than its fair share of fighting soldiers and suffered significant loss of life in this Iraq war.”

In the ad, Sheehan professes her love for the United States, but says that the Iraq war is a “senseless” mistake and a lie that’s cost us many loved ones. She closes with the plea, directed toward President Bush, to “bring our troops home now.” Exactly what part of this is offensive to Salt Lake City sensibilities?

Let’s try to figure it out…

Love of country? Hmm. Somehow I doubt that’s it.

A deadly mistake? Hmm. There are those who feel that any “disparaging” talk regarding the war undermines our troops’ morale and bolsters our enemy. I’m certain that finding out all the reasons they went to war in the first place were false hasn’t helped troop morale any, though (hence a reference in the spot to President Bush lying to us). Nor has it discouraged the insurgency.

Then there’s the part about “bring(ing) our troops home…” Is this an offensive idea to Salt Lake City denizens? From the KTVX statement, I get the impression many troops from that city are in Iraq right now. Don’t they want them to come home – and soon?

In this war, as during Vietnam and other past wars, peace activists and war supporters (who consider themselves the only true patriots) have consistently failed to realize they’re on the same side and want essentially the same thing: an end to the war. But, for some reason, the patriots seem to take offense at anyone else saying so.

It's difficult to say exactly, but the answer to why KTVX doesn’t want to air the ad may just be that Orrin Hatch doesn’t want to deal with any issues while he’s on vacation. Much like another prominent politician we know.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bride Of BTK?

Dennis Rader, the self-labeled “BTK” serial killer, today began his 175-year sentence for 10 murders he carried out from the 70s through the 90s. Hopefully this brings the victims’ loved ones some level of comfort for what they’ve endured.

Hopefully, too, no foolish individual out there has developed a romantic interest in this monster since he came into the limelight. Not that he could benefit much from it now.

Still, we’ve heard many times about convicted killers getting love letters from women, who are attracted to their, well… who the fuck knows? These women will visit their beloved regularly and carry on a “love affair” through smudgy glass. Sometimes they even marry their favorite thug (the big lug)! Apparently there are no good men living freely in our society; they’re all behind bars. Why else would they be there?

Butcher This Killerwhoisascumsuckingpieceofshit (BTK, for short) is spending his initial time in prison isolated, so no relationships, at least the in-person kind, are possible for now. But I won’t be surprised if sometime in the future some bimbo professes her love for him on a TV tabloid show, because, “There’s just something about him...”

Were nuptials to occur between said nutcases, consummation wouldn’t be possible until BTK’s about 230 years young – at least. Still, I imagine the bride would be a widow before long, prison being what it is. Can you say “Jeffrey Dahmer?”

Thursday, August 18, 2005

How Much Extra For The Air Force One Maintenance Plan, And Is A Saturday Stay Required?

Recent air disasters on three continents have reminded me that for years I’ve had a solution for ending commercial plane crashes once and for all. We need but implement it.

Air Force One will always fly safely, despite what you may have seen in Escape From New York or that other movie – the one with Harrison Ford. So, here’s my two-prong plan…

First, starting today, all airline maintenance crews need to be given the Air Force One Maintenance Handbook. Whatever the president’s ground crew is doing, they’re doing it right. Now it’s time for the rest of us to benefit from it.

Second, existing air traffic controllers are going to have to be “reeducated” to believe every plane they’re tracking is Air Force One, and treat it with the care typically afforded that aircraft. Future controllers would need to be trained – indeed, even bred – to do the same.

Think all this would be too expensive to be feasible? If all the pork in the recent $286.4 billion transportation bill were replaced with my idea, we might just cover the cost, with enough left over for dinner off the 99¢ value menu.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Locals Made Sure We Had A Blast At Camp

Cindy Sheehan and her fellow “vigilees” outside President Bush’s Texas ranch got a double-barrel salute on August 15, as a fed up rancher fired a shotgun in the air near their camp. In explanation, the rancher, whom I’ll refer to as Mr. Matlock, said that he was “getting ready for dove season.”

My first inclination is to think that Mr. Matlock is full of something he probably shovels every day as part of his rancher duties. But maybe he was being honest, and was just speaking “metaphorically.”

You see, the dove is a longstanding symbol for peace. He may have been saying, in effect, that he’s declaring war on peace. Or, since it’s hard to wage war on an abstract concept, on the protestors themselves.

So, move over Elmer Fudd! No more waterfowl with comical speech impediments, and no more “wabbits” – it’s dove-hunting season!

“Shh! Be vewwy, vewwy quiet. I’m hunting wadicals.”

The primary purpose of Sheehan’s vigil is to get some face-time with President Bush, but her ultimate goal is to get him to withdraw US troops from Iraq so no more of them are killed, as her son Casey was while serving over there. So, it’s a peace protest of sorts.

No laws were apparently broken with the gunshot, despite its proximity to Sheehan’s camp, as Mr. Matlock was shooting on his own property. And it is Texas, after all. But a few thoughts about the incident come to mind…

Shooting in the air is not the most responsible of pastimes. (Ask anyone who’s been to New Orleans for New Years!) So, what if Mr. Matlock fired the gun on his property, but the bullet landed elsewhere – in the skull of a protestor, for example? What would be the legal ramifications then? I imagine he’d be exonerated (or possibly pardoned by Bush) on the notion that anything (or anyone) is fair game when it comes to protecting your property against strangers (outside agitators, revenuers, liberals and the like).

And another thought: Several days ago Sheehan stated in an interview that the Secret Service warned her she might be considered a security threat if she didn’t leave before a planned presidential drive-by. The motorcade later came and went without incident. I wonder, though, if the Secret Service talked with Mr. Matlock about the security threat he posed. As the vigil “blast” demonstrates, he was packing heat very close to the president’s travel route.

Wait. Wasn’t there a guy with a rifle who did something bad to a president riding in a limo in Texas 40+ years ago? Hmm. Maybe that was just a movie I saw, or something. Or maybe it was an illusion planted in my mind by the liberal media.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Weeding Through A Seedy Issue

So the Supreme Court has refused to allow marijuana for medical use. How incredibly crass and small-minded.

Like it or not, marijuana seems to help victims of cancer, AIDS and glaucoma. Who is anyone else to stop them from relieving the daily pain they experience in whatever way they see fit?

Unfortunately, the substance was demonized in the American psyche long ago, thanks in part to propaganda films like Reefer Madness, so effectively that it remains a taboo until this day.

Many draw a clear distinction in their minds between good (legal) drugs and bad (illegal) ones. While there are many BAD ones – heroine, coke and meth for examples, when it comes to drug health benefits, not everything is so clear-cut.

One recent article from a mainstream news source says amphetamines like Ecstasy may inhibit Parkinson’s(!) Can’t you just see Grandma’s shakes going away and being replaced by horniness that’d make Pat O’Brien blush? On second thought, don’t attempt it.

Here’s an indisputable fact: Drugs more powerful and addictive than marijuana are available at your local Walgreens. Just ask Rush Limbaugh if you don’t believe me.

Part of what keeps the marijuana taboo alive, I believe, is that opponents still remember free-loving, infrequently bathing, draft-card-burning hippies, for whom they’ve always held disdain, and they associate marijuana with those people. They also think of the shady guy dealing on the street corner. They can’t imagine an elderly, half-blind woman roaching a splif to alleviate her glaucoma symptoms. But it happens

One of the unfortunate side effects of marijuana use is that it sometimes makes people act like idiots. But, among the narrow-mindedness opponents of medical use, NOT using marijuana may be a leading cause of idiocy.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Flawed Intelligence

Intelligent Design (ID) is the new, improved creationism. But slap a new, politically correct-sounding name on it, and it’s still the same thing.

ID is a theory that states that the universe is so complex, some entity must have created it. “God” is not specifically mentioned. Nor is any explanation of dinosaurs or hominids offered.

ID is a Trojan horse built to sneak creationism into public schools. Does it belong there? No, because they’re public schools. If you want your kids taught creationism, send them to private school, where they can be taught anything you want them to believe. Get a second job, recycle aluminum cans or join a pyramid scheme to fund that if you have to, but don’t change public schools just because you won’t spring for the private kind.

ID is a theory, not science, and therefore shouldn’t be taught in science class. Some say evolution is a theory, too. While spontaneous generation seems somewhat farfetched, evolution is based on scientific study. ID is a matter of beliefs, for which science doesn’t hold much value, and rightly so.

President Bush recently weighed in on the ID issue, stating he believes one purpose of education is to “expose people to different schools of thought” and “different ideas.” It’s unclear why no reporter at that press conference pointed out that this contradicts his stringent stance on sex ed, which is abstinence-only, and excludes mention of contraception, homosexuality and masturbation.

ID appears to be yet another issue some public figures are using to bolster the factually challenged contention that faith is under attack in the US. And it’s yet another instance of “flawed intelligence” being used by our president as a tool toward misguided ends.

I’ve Got Some Beaching To Do

I get the distinct feeling many of the beer and soda commercials I see on TV are deceptive. I’m not talking about how these products are portrayed as contributing to a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle. I’m talking about the fact that these ads quite often depict people having all sorts of fun on beaches, fun that I never get to have even though I live in a state ringed by them.

At least in Florida, most public beaches:

· Don’t allow alcoholic beverages – (I’m not saying it’s not easy to get away with drinking them on the beach, but the people in these spots are drinking openly)

· Don’t allow dogs

· Don’t allow you to drive your jeep, car, etc. right up to the water

· Don’t allow you to hang around after dark

· Don’t allow you to build a bonfire, even though sand doesn't burn

So, my question is: Where are these beaches? Cause, I want to visit them. And I want to party with the privileged people I see in those spots.

One night soon I want to do donuts* on the beach in my car, with a golden retriever bouncing around in the back seat, then hop out, pop open a cold one, wait for it to settle (as all proper beers should do), and down it by firelight with my posse while the retriever takes a dump in the dunes.

Now that’s living!

*Vernacular for driving your car around in circles to create a donut-shaped pattern in the dirt, just for the thrill of it.

I’m Going To Buy A Pallet Of Condoms At Costco And Send Them To Africa

Starvation. AIDs. Both of these are a blight upon many countries throughout Africa. And, by my reckoning, these problems have a common solution:

The jimmy hat
The rubber
The love glove
The lambskin
The condom

Whatever you call it, this long-in-existence intimate apparatus is sadly not being put through its motions where it could be used most.

I feel frustrated, because I want to help end the suffering of millions. At the same time, I sometimes come to the defeatist conclusion that you can’t help those who won’t be helped.

Proliferation of these plagues is often attributed to a lack of education. But do Africans really not know where babies come from? I don’t think that’s the case. Unwise behavior and beliefs are the foundation for these tragedies.

What beliefs do I speak of? For one, the belief that having sex with a virgin can either prevent or cure AIDS. This has led to the abhorrent practice of infant rapes in some parts of Africa.

Then, there’s the notion that the use of birth control is a sin. Ask one of the many Catholic charities working in Africa if condoms are part of their relief plan; the church is officially opposed to any effective form of birth control – even in the face of overpopulation and disease. In the battle of “ideal” versus “real,” millions of innocents are the cannon fodder.

As then-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once told us, much to the consternation of his conservative cohorts, condoms are the best method of preventing AIDS infection – barring abstinence. And I do bar abstinence; it’s just not real-life.

Condoms are also a good way to prevent children who are bound to starve from even being born in the first place.

Yep, while no panacea, condoms could help Africa for sure.

Now if we could just develop a condom that prevents civil war and genocide

Vehicular Relations: Busting Backseat Boppers

Courts have ruled that vehicles don’t count as private property, hence having sex in your car – even if the windows are tinted – is unlawful.

Does the same apply to a station wagon? Probably so. Though wagons are a bit roomier for said activity.

What about a van, some of which have rear compartments that can’t be seen into from the outside? Hmm.

Ok, what about a camper? These things have beds, toilets and sinks in them.

Same goes for a Winnebago; some of the larger ones could accommodate an orgy.

Then there’s the mobile home. True, most of the time they’re off their wheels and stationary. But what if a couple, or a couple of people, decide to get it on in the trailer while it’s being hauled to its new neighborhood? Will they be pulled over and cited?

And what if they decide to knock boots at a state-sponsored rest stop or at the Stuckey’s, where they enjoy a pecan-log-roll-in-the-hay?

I, for one, want to know the answers to these pressing questions.