Archive for October, 2006

Gentle and generous, or satanic and barbaric?

October 30, 2006

First, news from an Assyrian website, as relayed by Little Green Footballs:

(AINA) — According to the Assyrian website ankawa.com, a 14 year old Christian Assyrian boy, Ayad Tariq, from Baqouba, Iraq was decapitated at his work place on October 21.

Ayad Tariq was working his 12 hour shift, maintaining an electric generator, when a group of disguised Muslim insurgents walked in at the beginning of his shift shortly after 6 a.m. and asked him for his ID.

According to another employee who witnessed the events, and who hid when he saw the insurgents approach, the insurgents questioned Ayad after seeing that his ID stated “Christian”, asking if he was truly a “Christian sinner.” Ayad replied “yes, I am Christian but I am not a sinner.” The insurgents quickly said this is a “dirty Christian sinner!” Then they proceeded to each hold one limb, shouting “Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!” while beheading the boy.

And now, a look at the events calendar from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas:

Austin playwright Steve Moore, ( Nightswim, Not Clown, The Kindermann Depiction ) accepted this commission to embark on an exploration of Islam – a religion most Americans either don’t get or get wrong. Together with fifteen student writers (and help from Muslims and scholars of Islam) he has created an enchanting new play that honors the gentleness, generosity, and grace of this often misunderstood and much-maligned faith.

I can’t wait to be enchanted by the gentleness, generosity, and grace of this beautiful religion of peace. Has the Congregation of the Holy Cross completely lost their minds?

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Shampoo and early puberty

October 19, 2006

NY Times article. Scary: certain products can hasten sexual development in children, resulting in things like enlarged genitalia, breast enlargement (in boys as well as girls), and pubic hair by the age of 5 or 6. These products include testosterone-enhanced skin cream and shampoo containing estrogens and placental extract. Testosterone creams and sprays have also been shown to produce increased aggression in young boys.

Anything hormonal is dangerous for the development of young children, and, as the article states, this can even include pollutants in the water.

The article is silent, however, on the birth control pill and its big sister, the Morning After pill. These are essentially artificial steroid hormones (progesterone and estrogen) that wreak havoc with a woman’s reproductive system so that she cannot conceive a child.

What I want to know: If the hormones in something as innocuous as skin cream or shampoo can create physiological and behavioral abnormalities in infants and young children, does it not stand to reason that the sustained application of artificial hormones to a woman’s system would likely also be responsible for some developmental problems? Especially in boys, given the harmful effect of estrogen on the developing male brain? Why are there so many “intersex” babies born? (Formerly called “hermaphrodites”; article cites frequency of about 1 in 4,500 births.) And has it always been this way?

Happy Birthday, JH

October 17, 2006

If you’re online and trying to figure out what to do with your evening, how about reading some black poetry? Today is national Black Poetry Day, named because it’s the birthday of America’s first black poet (b. 1711). His name was Jupiter Hammon. The man largely (if not singlehandedly) responsible for this observance is Stanley Ransom, the “Connecticut Peddler.” Stan was the first, and so far is the only person to have printed all of Hammon’s works.

Raise a glass and a mighty cheer for Jupiter and Stan!

It’s all about pills

October 13, 2006

Apple is selling a red iPod nano as part of a campaign to fight AIDS in Africa. Apparently, the whole epidemic hinges on the availability of “pills.” It sounds rather Communist, if you ask me, but the founding document behind this campaign is called the “(Red) Manifesto” and contains this statement:

YOU BUY (RED) STUFF. WE GET THE MONEY, BUY THE PILLS AND DISTRIBUTE THEM. THEY TAKE THE PILLS, STAY ALIVE, AND CONTINUE TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES AND CONTRIBUTE SOCIALLY AND ECONOMICALLY IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.

IF THEY DON’T GET THE PILLS, THEY DIE. WE DON’T WANT THEM TO DIE. WE WANT TO GIVE THEM THE PILLS. AND WE CAN. AND YOU CAN. AND IT’S EASY.

Far be it from me to condemn them as reductionist. They are trying to do good in the world, and there is evidence that these antiretroviral pills are effective in preventing the transmission of the disease to one’s children. But according to (red), it’s all about the pills. Horrible living conditions, corrupt leaders, and endless war are negligible factors. And I wonder if the sexual habits of Africans have anything to do with the spread of AIDS, or if they would be better off if we offered help without also pushing them to adopt Western-style sexual mores. I mean, let’s help them out with “the pills” and all, but without also burying them in condoms. Condoms just encourage promiscuity, and promiscuity spreads AIDS. (Here it’s my turn to be reductionist.) Okay . . . condoms may help somewhat, but a “condom culture” is the wrong road to take if you really want to eradicate the disease.

George Michael found slumped over in car, again

October 2, 2006

CNN article. The best part:

The singer’s partner, Kenny Goss, told The Sun that Michael had nothing to say. “He’s fine and I’ve got him a McDonald’s,” he said.

I hope by “a McDonald’s” he either meant a) ownership of a McDonald’s franchise, which would bring him some extra cash every year; or b) the Big Breakfast. Mickey D’s has good breakfast stuff, but most of the other menu items are likely to make a person feel worse than being slumped over in car, again.