Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cuts you up. Break out the pealed grapes and cold spaghetti, we're bobbing for links at this Halloween party:

  • The Maxim men try to assert their manhood by listing nine of the monsters they think they can beat up. Leave Cookie Monster alone, you brutes!

  • The Film Experience tries to inspire some costume creativity with ten of the best movie wigs. I bet that Marie Antoinette one would require extremely good posture.

  • A.V. Club digs up the scariest, silliest, most tooth-rotting dollar store candies around. Gummi pizzas and critter goo? Makes me miss that bacon-chocolate bar.

  • Cracked prepares for the impending zombie apocalypse. I don't care how likely they think a zombie apocalypse is, nothing is scarier than maggot-infested cheese.

  • Wikipedia, of all things, scares the crap out of me with an overly-detailed account of premature burial. Such things should only exist in Edgar Allen Poe stories.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh god I love my dirty uncle Sam. Giuliani's New Hampshire radio ad promoting his health insurance plan is making me ill:

"I had prostate cancer, five, six years ago," Giuliani says in the spot. "My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States, 82 percent. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England, only 44 percent under socialized medicine."

First of all, where in the heck did he get these statistics from? And where did he come up with the seemingly arbitrary sums of money that Americans need to "buy" this fantastic, high-quality health care he's talking about?

Any doctor worth his stethoscope will tell you that "delaying or not receiving treatment can lead to serious illness and avoidable health problems" [source]. Giuliani's plan assumes that the average American can afford to plunk down $7,500 on an insurance plan. And somehow, this will magically reduce the cost of health insurance.

The bottom line is that if you're able to afford health insurance in this country like Giuliani can, you won't die. But stupid UK with its comprehensive health insurance will KILL YOU. Hoorah for oligarchical America, where the rich can buy their way to perfect health and the rest of us can die like dogs.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A heart of stone, a smoking gun. Today in HEINOUS American Pop Culture, Halloween Edition:

Completely inappropriate and demeaning costumes! In the grand American tradition of girls dressing like hookers on Halloween (in some cases, literally), I bring you the latest, greatest, and most heinous ideas yet: Sexy Mental Patient! Oh yeah. Because nothing says "hot" like "involuntary commitment."

If you thought that was bad, you're in for a real treat. Straitjacketed Ella Mental doesn't stand a chance when faced with the super-sexy Anna Rexia. Even I got a little turned on by this one. The thought of yellow or blotchy skin, body hair, tooth decay, early-onset osteoperosis, seizures, and chronic diarreha really gets me in the mood. The tape measure is a nice touch, don't you think?

Unfortunately, this HEINOUS phenomenon is spreading to children's costumes. Major Flirt? No! No, no, no. No.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Paint myself all red white blue. I'm adding a new category because some sections of pop culture are just too ridiculous and sad to be anything else but HEINOUS!

Today in HEINOUS American Pop Culture:

Let's condemn women for trying to protect themselves! It's not like women in their sixties get mugged or anything. And only hot, young women get raped because rape is actually a compliment, right? Wrong!

Don't mess with a Missionary Man. I've been sitting on this article for a whole month now, trying to decide what to say about it. I still don't know what to say other than this whole situation just seems wrong. I don't like the idea of religion-for-hire, where you can customize your religion to fit your expectations, completely ignoring thousands of years of theology and tradition. I don't object to intermarriage per se, and I think that most rabbis are horribly narrow-minded on a wide range of topics, but I think that this faux-rabbi business is a downright perversion of something that is essentially sacred and beautiful. People are so used to the customizable modern world where every aspect of life is completely bendable to one's particular vision that they cannot accept it when someone tells them "no." As my friend said, you can do whatever you want, just don't expect the establishment to agree with you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Come lie down beside me. Is it just me, or is the sight of seven-year-olds begging their parents to talk to them about abstinence really creepy? I'm all for protecting children from premature exposure to sexual content, but what about the kids in this "public service" ad? You can almost see the director yelling at that six-year-old black girl with the 'fro to annunciate "sexxx." Leave it to the Bush Administration to exploit children in their quest to mobilize the Republican base.

Click here for The A.V. Club's hilarious analysis.

Worse than you would ever know. I do not agree at all with this article. Anyone who's every studied the Amish or Fundamentalist Mormons can see a serious difference in the function of these two cultures and, consequently, their right to protection by the First Amendment.

The Amish refusal to pay Social Security taxes is balanced by the fact that they, as a group, refuse to accept such governmental aid in the first place. If they are religiously opposed to participating in the tax in any way, then why should they be forced into the system? In contrast, for every $1 Arizona's Fundamentalist Mormons pay in taxes, they receive $8 in government aid--a practice known as "bleeding the beast." Here is a religion that views all non-members as heathenous others who do not deserve their respect or consideration, a far cry from the Amish adherence to the Golden Rule.

Furthermore, Fundamentalist Mormons believe that polygamy is the key to creating Heaven's kingdom on Earth. According to a tract written in 1842 titled The Peace Maker, monogamy is responsible for a litany of crimes such as divorce, adultery, domestic violence, premarital sex, and abortion. Plural marriage, and more importantly the wives' complete and total subservience to her husband's will, is the absolute law of God and will restore order to our corrupt modern society. Girls are brainwashed from birth that their soul purpose on Earth is to marry and produce as many children as possible to serve their husband. As soon as girls hit puberty, they are married off. As they are taught from birth that their obedience is God's will, how can they refuse?

There is an extreme difference in the refusal of the Amish to pay Social Security or allow their children to take high school science versus the rampant statutory rape and domestic violence of the Mormon Fundamentalist community. Considering that taxpayers are financing the fundamentalist' violent life style, how can law enforcement in good conscious ignore and, therefore, tacitly condone this way of life? The First Amendment protects religious practice but it does not sanction violence against others. Reynolds v. United States refused to protect polygamy because "to permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." Unfortunately, this doctrine is not being upheld as it should be.

[All discussion of Mormon Fundamentalism taken from Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer]

Friday, October 12, 2007

I am the walrus. CNN sent me an article summarizing some reader responses to Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize win. I was expecting the usual Gore- and Clinton-bashing that happens when Gore does, well, anything, but I was surprised by how many people called global warming "junk science." I realize I have a habit of ignoring people who don't agree with me (doesn't everyone?), but this was overwhelming. For as long as I can remember, people have talked about the negative impact of human activity on the globe. I remember learning about this in elementary school. Like the inevitability of the sun one day "dying," the environment, influenced by technology and human excess, was changing. But unlike the sun, I could actually do something to help the world, like recycling or not letting go of my balloon or using public transportation instead of driving.

Apparently, many people did not learn about this in second grade and seem to consider this all bunk. Curious, I decided to uncover the heart of the discrepancy with a visit to the mecca of spun news coverage: FoxNews. Searches for "global warming" and "climate change" uncovered countless Associated Press articles detailing how global warming is melting polar ice and forcing the walrus south and increasing the number of Western wildfires. I couldn't find anything on the FoxNews website which actually proved global warming pseudoscience.

Except for this guy, who enjoys writing about the ridiculous cost of lowering carbon dioxide emissions and how renewable energy will actually ruin the environment. Maybe he's right, though it's hard to trust someone who doesn't believe secondhand smoke causes cancer. But why would he? He was a paid consultant for Philip Morris at the time the article was published.

An editorial in the American Journal of Public Health noted that "... attacking the science underlying difficult public policy decisions with the label of 'junk' has become a common ploy for those opposed to regulation" [Source]. Calling science "junk" or "pseudo" does not make it untrue. It just means that you are unwilling to believe it. Maybe the effect of greenhouse gases on the climate is grossly exaggerated; I'd still rather try to save the walrus than do nothing.

Poppa don't preach. These Wall Street Journal articles (1) (2) point to a disturbing trend in bogus child sexual assault prevention: Keep men away from children. Not only does this presume women to be incapable of sexual assault (which is certainly not the case), it paints all men as dangerous pedophiles waiting for the opportunity to strike. Limiting male contact with children in every venue--from youth groups to sports to simple hand-holding--reinforces harmful gender stereotypes: Namely, that men are inherently aggressive and uncontrollable.

How are men supposed to become more involved with home and family life if they are not allowed to hug their children? As of 2002, 23% of children under the age of 18 live with only their mother, and children in fatherless homes are at greater risk for various behavioral problems. Depriving children of positive male role models does more harm then good, and you can't protect children all the time, no matter how much you might like to. Of course, one abused child is too many, but forbidding men to have any physical or emotional contact with children is not an effective method of prevention. It simply teaches children that men are inherently evil and deviant, reinforces models of male aggression, and prevents children from interacting with men who defy stereotypes. How do we raise boys to become men who do not act on aggression if we not only refuse to let them interact with positive role models but also tell them they are inherently evil?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Flap your wings and fly. David Brooks says that I'm normal. I'm so relieved.

Dude, please don't compare my wanderlust to Knocked Up. I don't compare you to Alfred E. Newman, even though I should.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Radio gaga. Click here to check out the latest in what seems to be a series of bizarre videos of dancing Filipino prisoners. Is this a new twist on prison cruelty or simply a bizarre exercise program? ABC News isn't sure, either.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And you say why. Today in (Former) A-List Celebrity Sightings:

The exceedingly blonde Matthew Modine outside the Yankees game. He was the most well-dressed person there. Who wears cashmere to a ball game?

Bonus Politician Sightings: Mayor Bloomberg and President of 9/11 Giuliani. Again, I ask, who wears cashmere to a ball game? Someone spilled beer on me from the balcony above. That is not a cashmere-friendly environment.