Not “If” to Snip, but “When”

BBC NEWS | Africa | Mass circumcision to fight Aids

It’s apparently true. Circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring HIV (and, hence, AIDS) through heterosexual sex. Consequently, some are pondering mass circumcisions in South Africa as public health policy.”It’s good to be Jewish”, or, far more likely, “it’s good to be Muslim” is what many Africans must be thinking these days. I’m smiling, of course, and the Jews and Muslims in Africa must be breathing a sigh of relief.

Do Nuns Count, Anyway?

My sex in the convent – by Nobel poet | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Do macho men need to brag about bagging nuns? Is this a point of pride in the framework of machismo?

The bigger question is, perhaps, why on earth would the members of this convent raise a raucus about the obviously flattering musings of a Nobel Laureate, Juan Ramon Jimenez. After the pedophilia debacle that the Catholic Church has endured over the past decade, why would any order of the Church care about a capable poet’s fond recollections of forbidden love? By now the entire world knows that the Church meticulously documented all incidents of pedophilia committed by its priests, avidly hid the crimes from the public and overtly lied and denied access to its archives when the time of reckoning arrived. What harm could possibly come from the revelation that the women who worked in a Madrid convent at the turn of the century erred as human beings?

The Catholic Church promotes an extremely select few to the level of saint. Thus, it freely admits that its followers are human. So, why would it take offense at a revelation that it freely admits through its actions?

German Breasts, Polish Balls

BBC NEWS | Europe | Anger over Polish breast montage

Polish P\politicians suckling at Merkel's breasts.The Poles have certainly demonstrated little brains by comparing the current German government with the Nazi regime. And, whether insulting Germany is a demonstration of balls is an open question.

Perhaps this is what earned them the subordinate position in this magazine cover. This cover image is most distasteful, but it is strange that the Germans seem to be angrier than the Poles. After all, the cover is depicting the Polish leaders–and by extension, the Poles themselves–as subordinate to the German step mother.

It is silly to express surprise at the fact that Germany, France and the UK are leveraging their full economic might in the drafting of the EU founding documents. It is sillier to think that insulting the Germans will win the Poles any additional bargaining power.

World War II may never end.

The 4 Branches of Government

Cheney claims a non-executive privilege – Los Angeles Times

The United States Constitution is a remarkably multi-faceted document. Scholars have studied it for centuries, and they continue to find surprises therein. Read the above Los Angeles Times article to find the latest revelation of the Constitution.

This revelation was discovered by the staff of Dick Cheney, and it states that Dick Cheney is a heretofore forgotten fourth branch of government. A branch that is part of both the Executive and Legislative branches defined in the Constitution, but beholden to neither. This Cheney branch of government is free to dominate the CIA and to doctor its intelligence findings and to award unlimited contracts to Halliburton. This latter provision was, of course, a personal request from George Washington for the wonderful job Halliburton did delivering his wooden teeth on time and under budget.

At least, the Cheney branch would argue that such quid pro quo is perfectly legitimate.

Fit for Public Consumption

Sadistic, brutal and bleak: censors ban Manhunt 2 game | Technology | Guardian Unlimited Technology

Censorship is a horrible thing, of course, but the question of whether something material or intellectual is “fit for public consumption” is a legitimate one. If governments can ban certain foods (for example, the Guelaguetza chain here in Los Angeles no longer serves grasshoppers.) from consumption, then it is fair to ask whether they can ban other things from being consumed.

Germany and Austria have, understandably and justifiably, banned Nazism from public consumption. The Federal Communications Commission in the US has banned consumption of Janet Jackson’s nipple by the general public (and we are told that the Superbowl watching audience is one and the same with the general public, but I have my suspicions). And now, the British government is recommending the banning of the video game Manhunt 2 because the game has “an unrelenting focus on brutal slaying”, and because “The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rejected the game after finding it ‘constantly encourages visceral killing’.”

Is this a legitimate banning of virtual cocaine? Is it equivalent to (though clearly not on the same scale as) the banning of Nazism and Janet Jackson’s decorated nipple? The FCC will probably argue that Manhunt 2 will not be broadcast to innocent children as JJ’s nipple was, but the argument skirts the real question of whether anything as sadistic as Manhunt 2 is fit for consumption by anyone. Certainly, the government deems it necessary to keep everyone safe from child pornography, bestiality, and snuff films. Why is it that a virtual murderous rampage is morally more defensible than Janet Jackson’s nipple, and child and bestial pornography?

If the corrupting of the mind is a scourge to be battled by authorities, then why not ban a game containing no political statement, no intellectual content and no aspirations of decency? Why do the purveyors of trash enjoy greater freedoms in the US than do dissenting political factions? It seems as if the British authorities have a better notion of what is fit for public consumption than their American counterparts.

Deep fried Snickers bar, notwithstanding.

Monty Python Style Executions Stayed in Iran

Amnesty appeals against death by stoning | Iran | Guardian Unlimited

When descriptions of the Iranian penal code read as follows:

The code also states that the stones used should “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes; nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones”.

The stoning was due to take place in public, reportedly in the presence of a judge, who was due to cast the first stone. Those present at the gathering were to continue the stoning until the pair were pronounced dead.

One has to wonder whether the geniuses at Monty Python were on to something when they conceived and performed the stoning sequence in Life of Brian (or was it part of Monty Python’s Flying Circus? I forget.) Is it the case that they anticipated the absurdity of this act perfectly, or is it the case that those who plan on perpetrating the act are Monty Python fans?

As disconcerting as beheadings in Saudi Arabia may be, a slow painful death carried out in a country that leads the world in sex change operations is particularly horrifying. It reminds one of the Nazi era in Germany. It is a stark reminder that no matter how sophisticated people may look, how educated they may be, and how cultured they may appear, they are capable of unspeakable cruelty. Worse, they are capable of inflicting such cruelty for no reason at all.

It is a frightening reminder that mankind is still ruled by its baser instincts, no matter what its cultured veneer may project.

Fostering Tolerance

Jerusalem braced for gay parade clashes | Israel and the Middle East | Guardian Unlimited

Stories like the one above beg the question: do gay pride parades foster tolerance? Gay pride parades take place only in cities that have had long histories of tolerance toward homosexuality. Certainly, the began in cities like New York and San Francisco where tolerance was informally and unofficially codified. Hence, as aerial bombings frequently strengthen the resolve of the victims of the bombing, it is fair to ask whether confrontations of this sort with abjectly intolerant people end favorably.

Most certainly, gays ought to have every freedom to exercise their right to congregate in this way, but does the exercise of this right have any effect on the closed-minded citizens of Jerusalem? After all, the problem seems to be that intolerant fundamentalists (and the neo-nazis of Russia) express and act as if they are above the secular laws that govern their lands. Does a pride parade remedy this problem in any way?

Tolerance seems to have been institutionalized in Israel. That battle seems to have been won. As long as they don’t have any power, need gays confront fundamentalists?

What the Bleep? What the F**k??!!??

Lord have mercy. Tonight, after three weeks of procrastinating, I finally decided to put off my nightly slate of work to watch What the Bleep Do We Know?, and I desire fervently to let the entire world (or the few people who ever read this blog) know that this is perhaps the shittiest movie of all time. It is so bad that I could not tolerate more than 10 minutes of it.

The movie seems to want to make a connection between human consciousness and spirituality to quantum theory. This is an impossible task to anyone who has a shred of understanding regarding either endeavor. Hence, the movie begins with a pretty stupid premise.

But, the directors insist in digging themselves in deeper. They use a lot of “experts” who are nameless and, in all likelihood, completely unknown. What these experts say has no relationship or bearing to anything else in the movie. They are a bunch of people who are far to happy to listen to their own horseshit, and giddy like little babies because somebody has shown up with a camera to record their horseshit.

So, they keep talking, and the directors put poor Marlee Matlin, a fine actress, through the most dreadfully boring and meaningless of plots, and then they attempt to tie the plot to the horseshit that their “experts” are dispensing.

A greater disaster could not have been humanly conceived. One would hope that it would be obvious to anyone watching this movie that the only people who don’t have a bleepin’ clue are the directors of this movie, but one is soon shocked to learn that there is an entire cottage industry–practically a cult–that has grown around this failure of human imagination. Their web site is here. They even have a newsletter!

Heaven help us.

Yet Another Death in New York

Stoppard epic breaks records with seven Tony awards | Theatre story | Guardian Unlimited Arts

This is a somewhat dated story, but it’s difficult to keep up with all of the bad news for New York City. This story played out at the Tony Awards ceremony two weeks ago, and the opening paragraph in the Guardian story says it all.

Tom Stoppard’s epic trilogy Coast of Utopia last night set a new record at the Tony Awards, rounding off an exceptional Broadway season in which British imports have continued to dominate.

And, there you have it. The assault on the cultural life of New York City is now complete. It began with the evisceration, mostly under Giuliani, of the underground culture that had supplied blood to every other endeavor. And, now it has culminated in the slumping of broadway. The Producers may have been a smashing success, but it seems as if it is the British exports that are garnering all of the praise and all of the cash the past few years.

Perhaps New Yorkers are beginning to feel like Angelenos: if it weren’t for imported culture, there would be no culture at all. This may very well explain why they have been moving to LA in droves.

Milwaukee Officer Found To Be Illegal Immigrant –

Milwaukee Officer Found To Be Illegal Immigrant –

Exactly when did law enforcement become as disposable a profession as picking avocados, clearing tables or babysitting?

Or is that a silly question?