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November 30, 2005

stop the presses! no, really.

Administrators at the Oak Ridge High School in Tennessee went into classrooms and looked through desks and mailboxes in a frantic search this week for contraband, in this case the 1800-copy print run of the student newspaper.

No, doubt you are as shocked as we are that in this day and age, high school students would recklessly print an actual newspaper. We’re talking ink, paper, staples, the whole nine yards. We can only hope that it was part of a history class project and last semester they cranked out clay tablets and Gutenberg bibles.

But leaving that aside, the paper was considered hazardous to student health, even more so than the average student-created high school paper, in that it included detailed information regarding birth control (early draft here, towards the bottom, click on “that’s not all I have to say.”). As schools Superintendent Tom Bailey noted, "We have a responsibility to the public to do the right thing. We've got 14-year-olds that read the newspaper."

Indeed, by printing the article, the newspaper created a critical breach in the security surrounding information about birth control which thus far has been carefully limited to fewer than 60 million web sites. (Note to parents: Whatever you do, don’t let your kids find out about the Internet!)

Of course, such sensitive information is more appropriately addressed by adults as part of the normal school curriculum. While the Oak Ridge High School Curriculum Guide does not appear to directly offer courses on sex education or birth control there are several units under the Health and PE heading called “Lifetime Wellness” which are “geared toward developing a positive lifestyle management process for a more productive and higher quality of life.”   

We look forward to future exposés from the student newspaper tackling wellness and positive lifestyle management issues that have for far too long been relegated to locker room rumors and hallway gossip.

J.

November 30, 2005 at 12:41 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

words speak louder than actions

A U.N. Climate Control Conference opened up on Monday attended by representatives and experts from the 147 signatories to the Kyoto global warming accords. Many of these representatives remain angry with President Bush for not ratifying the Kyoto treaty.

As Canada's Environment Minister Stephane Dion noted, "I will certainly welcome any idea that may bring the United States closer to Canada, Europe, Japan, England and other countries as partners in this convention.” In order to bring the United States closer to Canada, it would have to step up the rate of growth in its greenhouse gas emissions from its current 13% over the past 13 years to Canada’s more environmentally responsible 24%. (Hey everyone, light up those chimeneas!)

Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club Canada was more pointed in her criticism saying that President Bush “represents the single biggest threat to global progress” regarding greenhouse gas emissions. This is clear as the period that encompasses President Bush’s first three years in office saw  greenhouse gasses go down nearly 1% while Canada’s increased nearly 10%. 

President Clinton is still held in high regard for originally signing the Kyoto accord and then spending three years working diligently to keep it as far from the Senate (where it would need to be ratified) as he possibly could. During this period, the United State’s production of greenhouse gasses increased nearly 7%. But the important thing is that he was really, really sincere about it and bit his lower lip when appropriate.

Since 1997, when the Kyoto treaty was originally signed, Spain has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 18.6%, Australia by 10.4%, and Ireland by 7.0%. During the same period, the United States increased its emissions by 5.6%. Using the same rigorous scientific method as that employed by global warming adherents we can come to only one conclusion: Signing the Kyoto treaty causes global warming.

If President Clinton were still in office, his lower lip would be raw by now.

J.

November 29, 2005 at 12:48 PM in Global Warming with CONSENSUS WATCH | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 28, 2005

been there, done that, got the rocks

Having successfully completed a second manned space mission in which two astronauts returned safely from earth orbit, China announced preliminary plans to land a man on the moon by 2020. The move is further evidence of the renewed confidence China is expressing on the world stage including its recent announcement of a program to produce a vaccine that would “eradicate polio in our time” and the development of a complicated “computational transistor” that could perhaps one day power advanced “mathematical-typewriter machines” that you could place on the top of your desk or possibly in some distant future, be small enough to fit right on your lap.

In other space news, the United States’ own NASA has finished preliminary tests and feels “pretty confident” that they can safely move the Space Shuttle 50 yards to the other side of its hangar with little loss of human life. However, the external fuel tank the shuttle uses to power its engines remains off limits. “We had a special ops Delta Force team go in there to get some serial numbers we needed,” said one NASA engineer. “The foam chunks falling off the thing took out half the squad.

"To this day, some of them can’t even look at a cappuccino without getting the shakes.”

J.

November 28, 2005 at 11:12 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2005

weekend arts & leisure – hooters magazine

You’ve eaten the wings. You’ve flirted with the Hooters Girls. Now, you can read about eating wings and flirting with Hooters Girls in Hooters Magazine. This has two distinct advantages:

  1. No sticky fingers
  2. No restraining orders. 

The magazine has in fact been around for a while but it was largely a promotional vehicle for the restaurant. This year it has been transformed into a promotional vehicle for the restaurant that you pay for at a newsstand. 

Of course, Hooters has never been merely a restaurant. It has always been more of a “lifestyle,” that lifestyle consisting of eating fried foods, drinking beer and paying attractive women to talk to you.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) 

You can tell a lot about the readership of a magazine by the advertisements placed in it. Here is a rundown of every ad in the Nov/Dec. issue (excluding ads for Hooters itself): Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, tires, beer, baseball bats, soda, beer. If you are like us, you no doubt find it very disturbing that an astounding three pages of advertising were for something other than beer.

What is the magazine like? Well, it’s Maxim without the sophistication.

The front section has quite a bit of material on all the charitable work Hooters Girls do (besides talking to you) including helping out after hurricanes and building homes for the poor. There is a two-page guide on how to shave which tells you something about the age target of the readership (next issue: “Gym Class Etiquette” and “Prom Night Dos and Don’ts“). The literary section offers reviews of two travel books and the gadget guide provides an extensive report on all the crap you can buy for your iPod.

These articles help demarcate the assorted pictorials without which the magazine would begin to resemble a Victoria’s Secret catalogue (in which "this year's big color" is always orange).

Like the restaurant, the magazine is unabashedly what it is and pretends to be nothing more.

Newsweek should be so honest.

J.

November 26, 2005 at 11:12 PM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 25, 2005

not only speech can be free

What do you call someone who digs through other people's garbage?

A bum.

What do you call someone who digs through other people's garbage in order to make a statement against the capitalist hegemony of a rampant consumer culture?

A bum who is also annoying.

They call themselves "Freegans" and are freeloaders with a mission.  That mission is to level a strike against our acquisitive corporate-driven consumption-based society by, it turns out, living for free. 

It's kind of a win-win.

Freegans reject the idea that new things are good, interesting, or that we purchase them of our own free will.  Rather we are victims of a society that seeks to enslave us in a vicious cycle of abundance, comfort, and material well being.

You can break these chains of oppressive prosperity by following these Freegan strategies helpfully laid out on their web site:

Waste Reclamation:  This involves re-using items that others have thrown away. Often these items can be exchanged at "Freemeets" where people bring items that others can take, and take from others what they need.  It’s kind of like a mini form of communism only without the death camps. The Freegans proudly note that "not a dollar is exchanged."  In this manner they also recycle the old economic system of barter, best remembered for its contribution to the “golden age” of caveman culture.

Freegans also bring the honor back to dumpster diving by feeding themselves on goods nearing their expiration date and other refuse tossed away by wasteful profit-driven supermarkets caught up in their greedy pursuit of offering goods their customers desire.

Transportation and Housing: Freegans do without such extravagant luxuries as automobiles, or more to the point, the extravagant luxury of paying for automobiles. They do this by hitchhiking.  They also advocate getting around by skating which would make our daily commute on the Washington DC Capital Beltway interesting.  Also, short.

As for finding a place to live, Freegans search for abandoned buildings in which they can squat. This is kind of the socially conscious way of moving back in with your parents.

Going Green:  The Martha Stewart segment of the Freegan lifestyle involves things like starting community gardens.  And it's a good thing.

You may wonder if the Freegan web site is squatting in some abandoned server farm left empty after the bursting of the dot.com bubble.  Or maybe you're thinking they traded some expired Ritz crackers, a broken Palm Pilot, and 47 back issues of Mother Jones for some bandwidth.

In fact, the Freegan web site is supported by "Wetlands Preserve" an organization which seeks to fight for "human, animal, and earth liberation" through, among other things, "street theater" which incidentally (and this is not widely known) was directly responsible for the fall of the corrupt Pinochet regime (and perhaps of even greater consequence, launched the career of beloved film actress and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman).

You can help support Wetlands Preserve by clicking on the Paypal link. Major credit cards are welcome, refurbished Birkenstocks and day-old bran muffins not so much.

J.

November 25, 2005 at 11:12 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 24, 2005

thanksgiving holiday conversational suggestions

As we did for Independence Day, we offer some guidance on navigating the often tricky conversational minefield that can result when family members of different backgrounds and political persuasions gather together around the holidays:


Getting ready to eat:
 

Yes: You sure outdid yourself this year.
No: I’m just thankful I’m not one of the victims of Bush’s flawed economic and social policies. 

Yes: Just look at that turkey.
No: Did you know that the top 1% make 15% of the nation’s total personal income? 

Yes: I’m glad I brought my appetite.
No:  Dennis Kucinich has some real answers I’d like to share with you all.
 

In the family room: 

Yes: Look how big the kids have gotten.
No: Anyone catch Sean Hannity yesterday? 

Yes: They do grow up fast.
No: He sure was giving it to those liberals again. 

Yes: You have to enjoy them while you can.
No: Hey, anyone mind if I turn Rush on?
 

Carving the turkey 

Yes: I’ve gotta get me some of that action.
No: Are there any vegetables untainted by death? 

Yes: Keep it coming, keep it coming.
No: Are you familiar with the living conditions on a modern turkey farm?   

Yes: Hope you’ve got another one for everybody else, ha ha.
No: I just made the web site your home page in the den.
 

At the table: 

Yes: Could you pass the gravy, please?
No: That Alito sure seems like a nice fellow. 

Yes: However do you get it so smooth?
No: I don’t think there’ll be much baby killing after he gets on the court. 

Yes: Mine comes out lumpy so often.
No: I liked Harriet Miers too.
 

Watching the game:

Yes: C’mon, ref, that was a terrible call!
No:
Almost as bad as entering into an illegal war with Iraq.

Yes: That guy must be blind!
No:
Not as blind as those neocons.
 
Yes:
Well, it’s all part of the game I guess.
No:
Can I interest you in some “Democracy Bonds?”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

J.

November 24, 2005 at 08:12 AM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 23, 2005

massachusetts’ “oil-for-personal-political-benefit” program

Through the Venezuelan national oil company, President Hugo Chavez will be providing 12 million gallons of discounted home heating oil to poor people in Massachusetts under a program brokered by Congressman William Delahunt.

Given that Massachusetts has approximately 600,000 people living below the poverty line that would be enough to provide a total of 20 gallons of 40%-off heating oil for each. Why, it’s like double-coupon day at the local Citgo!

Of course, Chavez is renowned for his opposition to American foreign and economic policy, but in fairness so is the Massachusetts congressional delegation. Chavez also recently called President Bush a “crazy man” and an “assassin,” which is completely outrageous since Bush is clearly not an assassin.

When asked about being used as part of an effort by Chavez to score a few sparring points in his ongoing battle with the Bush administration, an obviously jet-lagged and possibly delirious Delahunt said, this ''was something that wasn't about politics. It was genuinely humanitarian in its intention and in its impact."

Of course, there was this little “misunderstanding” a few years ago when the Bush administration was perhaps a touch too eager in supporting a coup that temporarily ousted Chavez, who was sort of the Democratically elected leader of Venezuela but hey, no harm no foul, right?

There is some concern about a congressman meddling in what amounts to foreign affairs, but as Delahunt said, “I belong to an independent branch of government."

That branch being the “Committee to Reelect William Delahunt.”

J.

November 23, 2005 at 11:44 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

the honeymoon plans have probably changed a bit

Kidnapping charges were dropped against David Ludwig after it was discovered that his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Borden, had gone with him willingly hoping to run away and get married. Both were fleeing the scene where Ludwig had just shot and killed both her parents.

The conversation in the car:

Kara: I am so excited about the wedding, we have to start making plans right away!
David: We should probably start with the invitations then.
Kara: Oh, yes, “You are cordially invited to join us at the church of the…”
David: Make sure you put something in there about making sure they’re not being followed.
Kara: Right, good thinking! You are sooo smart.

David: Do you want to have a traditional wedding, you know, with all the bridesmaids and flowers and with your father giving you aw… Oops!
Kara: Oh, that’s okay.
David: No, no, I understand it’s a touchy subject for you. I really should be more thoughtful.
Kara: Aw, you are SO sweet.

David: That does remind me, do you think we could register for gifts at Wal-Mart?
Kara: Sure.
David: Good, I’m a little low on ammunition if you know what I mean.
Kara:
Hey, quit trying to make me laugh ya big old goofball.

Kara: Say, we’ll need a photographer.
David: I know this guy down at the police station who's done nice work for me.
Kara: Really? What’s his specialty?
David: Um, portraits I guess.

Kara: Here I am, on the run from the law with my adult boyfriend who just shot my parents. Can you think of anything more romantic?
David: Well, I could go back and shoot your sister.
Kara: Stop it, you! You’re going to spoil me.

David: Honey, if we’re caught, I promise I’ll say I kidnapped you.
Kara: You don’t have to do that.
David: No, it’s the right thing to do, babe.  I promise I’ll stand by you forever.
You have my word.

J.

November 22, 2005 at 11:36 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

new york no-hold ‘em

Apparently convinced that the threat from terrorism has largely passed and that the city has become all but crime-free, the New York City Police Department is devoting resources to address the scourge of high-end poker clubs where affluent customers pay modest table fees to play poker with like-minded individuals. A number of these poker clubs have been raided this past week while others simply closed their doors under the threat.

“What you have here,” said one vice squad officer, “are consenting adults choosing to pay someone else for the provision of adequate facilities for the voluntary pursuit of an activity they enjoy.

“And that sir, is a crime.”

The problem is that high-end poker clubs prey on our most vulnerable citizens, such as $25-million-a-year Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who frequented one of the raided clubs. "In retrospect, it's probably a place I shouldn't have gone,” said a distraught A-Rod. “All I had was a pair of fours after the flop, I mean, what was I thinking?”

Of course, the damage extends far beyond the clubs themselves as patrons routinely spill out into the surrounding communities in a desperate search for a nice Grenache and maybe a good earthy cheddar or hard jack. As one resident living near the recently shut down “Broadway Club” observed, “I jut got tired waking up every morning to find empty bottles of Pellegrino stacked neatly in the garbage bins. I mean, enough is enough!”

It is not clear what the next target of the clearly bored police department might be but we would suggest that you make sure you don’t rip that tag off your mattress.

Just to be safe.

J.

November 21, 2005 at 12:29 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 20, 2005

weekend arts & leisure – like, the meaning of life, y’know?

Large numbers of twenty-somethings are apparently suffering from a lack of direction in life and are searching for purpose and meaning. Experts have coined a term for this:

Being twenty-something. 

Also, the “quarterlife crisis,” so named because you can’t be an expert in something called “you’re young, so what?”  At least not and get paid for it.

Fifty years ago twenty-somethings did not have quarterlife crises. Instead, they had jobs. Jobs tend to keep people busy leaving little time for valuable introspection. Asking your parents for money however frees up plenty of time for introspection most of which centers around wondering why you can’t find a job.   

It’s kind of a Catch-22 for narcissists. 

One of the problems according to the book, “Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis,” is that today’s twenty-somethings are facing many modern difficulties brought on by the Internet, instant messaging, microwaves, palm pilots, MP3s and DVDs. These developments have created an unprecedented burden of convenience, comfort and ease that earlier generations did not have to deal with and who were in any case distracted by polio, world war, and widespread civil unrest.

As a result, many twenty-somethings find themselves unable to settle on a direction in life.  Rob Montz, for instance, has considered being a doctor, a journalist, a philosopher, a teacher and a music producer. This indecision is entirely understandable. There was a time in my life when I wanted to be a policeman, a fireman, an astronaut, a pastry chef (it was a phase, okay?), a cowboy, a race car driver and a secret agent. But then I was eleven at the time.
 
As I think about it, I may have been suffering from a one-eighthlife crisis. It has all the earmarks: I was still living at home with my parents, I hopped from job to job unable to make a lasting commitment to washing the pots or cleaning up my room, and I spent inordinate amounts of time examining the great philosophical questions of the day such as whether the Starship Enterprise could beat the Battlestar Galactica in a fight. (Answer: Yes.)

In the end, the main problem with a quarterlife crisis is that in order to have a life crisis you need a life first. Middle-aged people have mid-life crises because they have wives to divorce and 401-Ks to turn over to Porsche dealers. What can twenty-somethings do to make a similarly dramatic statement? Switch banks? End their long relationship with Starbuck’s for a fling with Caribou Coffee?

Of course, the reality is that regardless of what those who are trying to merchandise angst may want us to believe, the vast majority of twenty-somethings are too busy actually living their lives to contemplate them. Which reminds me, I’ve got a bottle of Tanqueray No. 10 waiting to be lived in the den.

Carpe Diem and all that.

J.

November 20, 2005 at 12:58 PM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack