Saturday, December 31, 2005

Good News! We've got Peace on Earth. Next: Goodwill towards all.

A nice little year-end piece by Timothy Noah of Slate outlines the "Peace Epidemic." (His words, not mine, or at least, his editor's.) Unlike, say, a bird flu epidemic, this is a very pleasant thing. Apparently, violence in the world has gone down! (Linked Refs: Washington Post, Human Security Report 2005.) This, of course, belies the impression we can't help but get from the Bush Administration, that these are uniquely perilous times. Danger is eminent, real, and can only be stopped by sacrificing our civil liberties -- according to our Dear Leader.

As Noah points out: Terrorists, yes, bad, potentially very deadly. BUT: war, genocide, state-sponsored killings: also bad and potentially deadly, and on the decline. In point of fact: these things are MORE deadly, historically, than terrorism. There have been around 3,000 deaths from terrorism since 9/11. These deaths are to be mourned, certainly. But considering the perhaps 100,000 Iraqis killed in our War on Iraq -- Bush himself has admitted as many as 30,000 likely have died -- well. We've likely killed ten times more civilians in our war on terror as was lost in 9/11. Are these lives to be discounted because they are Iraqi? Are they to be discounted because we're pursuing a goal that may save, erm, one tenth the number of lives it's costing? Are they somehow discounted by the thousands dying in Sudan while we pursue our ambiguous goals in Iraq to the exclusion of stopping genocide in Africa?

In other words: EVEN IF WE WERE STOPPING TERRORISM BY FIGHTING IN IRAQ, WE'RE GOING AFTER THE WRONG GOAL. The world is safer, and terrorism, while not to be ignored, is still at its worst a minute part of the preventable deaths going on in the world.

When over a billion people are malnourished in the world, and six million children dying each year from hunger, why in goodness's name is our focus on terrorism? When the equivalent of most of New York City dies each year in terms of children only, should our money go primarily towards averting terrorism (where the most deadly attacks to date have killed thousands, and the most deadly imaginable, nuclear attacks, are not being address at all by our current program/pogrom), or should it go towards feeding children in a world where there's enough food per capita and children are certainly starving in conditions that even the most uncompassionate conservative must admit are not of their own fault or making?

Happy New Year, World. Unless we stop Bush's madness, our increasing Peace On Earth is Dead.

Long Live Peace on Earth.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Virginity Fraud???

File under Useless Things You Probably Wish I Hadn't Told You. William Saletan of in his Human Nature column today highlights the growing Re-hymenation industry:
Business is booming in "revirgination," i.e., hymen reattachment. Cost: $2,000 to $5,000. Unmarried immigrant women are getting it to avoid family disgrace by hiding the fact that they've lost their virginity. Married women are getting it (along with vagina-tightening surgery) to thrill husbands on their anniversaries. Objection from the left: It's female genital mutilation. Objection from the right: It's virginity fraud.

I think this calls for a Patented J-AHHHHHH.


As far as I can tell, there's no free way to get to the Wall Street Journal article on-line without subscribing (i.e. in this case, paying). Using the magical power of being a grad student I got to the article.

Take it from me and J-Friend Lindsay, under no account should you get to the article.

Here's a preview that the sane among you should take as warning enough:

It's the ultimate gift for the man who has everything," says Ms. Yarborough, 40 years old, a medical assistant from San Antonio.

Gynecologists are marketing hymenoplasty in magazines, local newspapers and online. They report business is booming.

Religious groups that value abstinence until marriage say hymen repair is a deception. (Their frickin' problem with hymenoplasty is HONESTY? Not, i.e., the fact that "Some feminists liken hymenoplasty to female genital mutilation." Gee, who knew religious groups weren't tapped into deconstructionist post-modern feminism? --ed.)

"Revirgination" costs as little as $1,800 at Ridgewood Health and Beauty Center, a spa and cosmetic-surgery center in the New York City borough of Queens. To promote the procedure, the center's owner, Cuban-born Esmeralda Vanegas, has given away hymenoplasties on a Spanish-language radio station.

"Losing your virginity is like losing a member of your family," Ms. Vanegas says. "We can make it seem like nothing ever happened."

"I thought it would add that extra sparkle to our marriage," says the woman.

Ok, so maybe those don't appear so bad. But I warn you: we didn't get to the part about how "midwives used to disguise a broken hymen with a needle and thread, sometimes using membrane material from goats and other animals."

Need I say more? GOAT HYMEN.

This sounds almost like a cautionary tale against pre-marital sex by itself. "'Don't give yourself to your man until you are married, or else the GOAT HYMEN will get you,' my old Aunt Baruska warned me before we came to the New World, fire in her eyes, as animals whickered and whinnied and stirred in the night."

So, my readers, go forth and sin no more, else this Old World Terror come claim you late in the night.

P.S. Is anyone else reminded of the Sneetches?

“My friends”, he announced in a voice clear and clean, “My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean. And I’ve heard of Your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy. But I can fix that I’m the Fix-It-Up Chappie. I’ve come here to help you. I have what you need. And my prices are low. And I work with great speed. And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!”

Perhaps that's Dr. Sylvester McMonkey McBean?

On reflection, probably not a name that would inspire hymenoplastic-trust.


I'm done now.

P.P.S. Someday real blogging will resume. Really. Honestly.

Some day.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Never suck this man's carrot.

A scary, scary travelogue here with a prominent California resident as a lecherous Rio de Janeiro tourist (sadly, playing the role of "Himself").

Also: never, ever, vote this man into high elective office, and not just because of his Farrah hair.

Oh, wait, too late.