Archive for September 28th, 2009

The need to really look at the evidence in Iran.

| September 28, 2009 | Reply
The need to really look at the evidence in Iran.

Amidst new reports that Iran has not been forthcoming about its nuclear program, Glenn Greenwald urges that we do what the Chinese are doing, as reported by the NYT:

The Chinese, one administration official said, were more skeptical [of recent reports], and said they wanted to look at the intelligence, and to see what international inspectors said when they investigated.

What Greenwald is suggesting is common sense. He might need to repeat his advice endlessly, though, because we live in a country where the gold standard for the news media is hyped up conflict and because we are a country that doesn’t seem to “get” common sense anymore.

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The Fed on the hot seat

| September 28, 2009 | 1 Reply
The Fed on the hot seat

Here’s a video of Rep. Alan Grayson interrogating the Federal Reserve’s General Counsel Scott Alvarez. The topic is the Fed’s alleged independence. It’s good theater, I will look for more of the same. It’s about time that we show some public snarkishness toward the Fed, given its chronic failure to make its operations transparent. A world-class audit of the Fed is long overdue.

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Newsy.com: where multiple media perspectives are featured

| September 28, 2009 | Reply
Newsy.com: where multiple media perspectives are featured

Newsy.com is a website with a nice twist. The site chooses individual stories and then examines them from the perspectives of various news organizations and websites. I’ve watched a few of newsy.com’s featured stories, and I find this approach promising. By featuring a story from the perspectives of multiple news organizations, newsy.com is, in effect, telling us news about news-makers (in addition to telling us the news). Here’s an excerpt from Newsy.com’s about page:

Newsy.com takes a step back to show how the world’s news organizations are reporting a story – providing an unprecedented global and macro point of view. You’ll find CNN right next to Al Jazeera, the BBC right next to ABC. Newsy.com also covers major newspapers, news magazines as well as top blogs from around the world.

Here’s a recent Newsy.com story that asks the question whether FOX News went over the line by promoting a demonstration. Here’s another recent story discussing the new Wikipedia policy that allows only Wikipedia in-house editors to edit articles about living people.

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Womens Rights in the 21st Century

| September 28, 2009 | 1 Reply
Womens Rights in the 21st Century

I found a fascinating post on one of the blogs I regularly read: Weekend Diversion: An Amazing Group of Women. It is mostly about the Asgarda women of the Ukraine, a small group of (mostly young) women working for the rights of women in an environment plagued with sex trafficking and other abuses of women, Eastern Europe. There is also a video of Loudon Wainwright singing “Daughter”. Well worth clicking over to hear the song and see pictures of essentially a modern tribe of Amazons.

Meanwhile, I wondered if the United States is the only nation in which there are so many groups of women actively protesting against rights for women. Like Phyllis Schlafly‘s Eagle Forum, who worked diligently to persuade women to vote against the Equal Rights Amendment, and continue to agitate to prevent any laws from passing that explicitly give women protections already enjoyed by men.

Pro Life groups are also essentially anti-women’s rights, and largely manned by women. It is basically a matter of whether the government or a women may legally decide who or what may live within her body and what may be expelled. Men already have this protection, granted by their reproductively deficient bodies allowing them to claim any foreign internal organism as a hostile alien.

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Excuse me . . . my mortality is showing: meditations on life and death

| September 28, 2009 | 5 Replies
Excuse me . . . my mortality is showing: meditations on life and death

Have you ever wondered why so many Americans wear clothing when it’s warm outside? Are they really covering up for sexual propriety—because of shame? Or could it be that they are wearing clothes to cover up their animal-ness– their mortality? I’m intrigued by this issue, as you can tell from my previous writings, including my posts about “terror management theory,” and nipples.

This issue came to mind again recently when I found a website that allows you to completely undress people. The site has nothing to do with sex, I can assure you, but it has a powerful set of images that raise interesting questions about human nakedness. To get the full experience, go to the website and select an image of a fully clothed person. These are absolutely ordinary looking people, as you will see. Then click on the images of any of these men or women and watch their clothes disappear.

If you are like me, when their clothing disappears, this will not cause you to any think sexual thoughts. If you are like me, you will find yourself thinking that these people looked more “attractive” with their clothes on. For me, the effect is dramatic and immediate, and it reminded me of a comment by Sigmund Freud (I wasn’t able to dig out the quote), something to the effect that we are constantly and intensely attracted to the idea of sex (duh!), but that sex organs themselves often look rather strange to our eyes–sex organs are not necessarily sexy. I think the same thing can be said for our entire bodies. Nakedness isn’t the same thing as sexuality or else nudist colonies would tend to be orgies (which, from what I’ve read, they are not). Rather, sexual feelings are triggered by the way we use our bodies. We do many things that are sexual, and most of these things take some effort. Simply being naked is not an effective way to be sexy.

In America, people constantly confound nudity with sexuality. I admit that the media presents us with many ravishing image of sexy naked people, but the sexiness of such images is not due to the mere nakedness. There’s always a lot more going on than mere nakedness. Consider also, that when people actually mate, they often bring the lights down low, further hiding their bodies.

Then why do Westerners cover up with clothing to be “proper”? I suspect that anxiety about death (not so much anxiety about sex) contributes to our widespread practice of hiding those naturally furry parts of our bodies—those parts associated with critically “animal” functions relating to reproduction and excretion of body wastes.

[More . . .]

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