Monday, December 28, 2009

Meme - Wikipedia Race

Lowest Score wins!

How fast can you get to Jesus?

I got it in 3 clicks:

Professional Wrestler Sarah Stock

And from comments on the boingboing page, it seems that going to a country and then using its religious demographic info is a common tactic.

Enjoy! More on nuance soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nuance in Modernity

This is just the start of a series of thoughts I've had percolating for a few months, that I hope will grow into something articulable in a concise criticism of the dynamics of political and legal ramifications to both social and economic policy and how they are affected by contemporary ideological movements. It grows, however, out of observations governing art and treatment of individual choices, especially as affected by the mental health industry.

Emotionally Compelling Playlist for Adults

Adult contemporary music tends to be boring and lacks emotionally compelling lines. It's more cerebral, more designed around easy emotions and communication than evocation. But music that's not for adults tends to be a kind of simplistic that borders on ignorance, to express emotions that adults have already worked through and understand. One of the problems with modernity and self-awareness is that it leaves little room for nuance and tragedy: it's too transparent. These songs fulfill the Frostian prdiction that nothing gold can stay: any band or performer capable of this kind of tension in their music can't keep it up, and either the band breaks up, the singer stops recording, or they slip back into something simpler and less impressive. Billy Joel may be the exception to this-- he managed to sustain it for three or four albums.

1. Blink-182 - Always (especially if you watch the video)
2. New Found Glory - It's Not Your Fault (except ignore the video)
3. Fountains of Wayne - Valley Winter Song
4. Billy Joel - Summer, Highland Falls
5. Billy Joel - Captain Jack
6. Annie Lennox - Why
7. Bonnie Rait - I Can't Make You Love Me
8. Ginblossoms - Hey Jealousy
9. Poison - Here I Go Again
10. Natalie Merchant - Carnival
11. Mandy Moore - I Wanna Be With You
12. Something Corporate - 21 and Invincible
13. Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime
14. Colin Hay - Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

At first glance, this is a playlist about midlife crisis-- feeling that things have fallen apart in a way, or that you've become profoundly alienated from a world you both constructed and were forced into. But at the same time, there are some pieces in there that embody the potential that adults can still see in their lives, that adults can still want things rather than mourn the collapse of things they've built: I Wanna Be With You, Once in a Lifetime, Here I Go Again. And then recognizing the blessings of every day: Valley Winter Song.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Trip to Scientology

I took a trip to L.A. a few months ago, and, taking a cue from this article I decided to go check out the Scientology Celebrity Center.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Academic vs. Activist, How to End Rape Culture

Another one of my posts playing off a blog post I read elsewhere... Feministing linked me to here, promising a post about how men need to be involved in ending rape culture. The post, by Audacia Ray, ended up having almost nothing to do with that. In a (self-admitted) ramble, the post started at noting that men need to be involved in ending rape culture, but in asking what that would look like, went off on a very sophomore year B/B- tangent about the author's personal history dating manly men, womanly men, and women. Then the commenters made a big deal about how we talk about trans people, and I was left with next-to-no-interest in anything anyone was saying, except to the extent that I felt deprived of what I'd hoped was a conversation about an important issue: how do you get men interested in issues of modern feminism?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More on Healthcare

Sorry for the blitz of postings-- I have a lot of thoughts to catch up on.

The posting I did on healthcare leaped off a post at feministe about healthcare, and the conversation ensued in the comments. I don't want to lose the points from that conversation, so here goes:

Quick Hit: AIDS Vaccine

Quick hit for me, anyway. There's some stuff circulating now about a new AIDS vaccine that was tested in Thailand and reduced AIDS transmission by 31%. Some thoughts:

- This study was totally and completely immoral, which is why it was done in a third world country. It's like using human subjects to test whether a new bullet-proof helmet will work, by shooting people in the head with bullets. It's only a small step above intentionally having these people have sex with someone who has AIDS. Working with an at-risk population and standing mutely by while you know some of them are going to get infected is obscene.

- A population that's adjudged to be at-risk for HIV tends not to be a population that medical researchers can rely on for clinical honesty; there are cultural barriers, issues of mistrust between researcher and patient, and, with regard to the particular communities at risk for HIV, issues of mental illness (not all hookers or heroin addicts are crazy, but lots and lots are) and understanding of veracity and consent.

- There are different strains of HIV, and I haven't seen any discussion of whether that accounts for the weird statistics here: why 31%? Maybe this just works on certain strains, in which case those strains should be deduced and some level of statistical analysis done on which strains are prevalent in which geographic and demographic populations.

- Going back to the morality issues and cultural issues: why do you think this was done in Thailand? I'm going to go read the research and update this if necessary, but it seems like Thailand's a good place to do this kind of study because of the huge sex trade, which means we're using a tragedy of humanity as the forum for medical research, and while it makes sense, it's discomforting. Why not do this in South Africa, where 10% of the population has AIDS/HIV? My point is that the forum selection in this case is not irrelevant to the clinical findings-- sex-work-driven epidemiology is a factor in interpreting these results, just as rape-driven epidemiology would be a factor in interpreting results in an African population. AIDS is a highly-demographically sensitive epidemic, and these differences are more salient factors in understanding the usefulness of any vaccines than they would be for many other diseases-- even STD/Is.

- Every year we have to update the flu vaccine, because the flu is a virus, and viruses mutate rapidly. If we do find a vaccine for AIDS, we're going to need to update it constantly to accommodate different strains, UNLESS the AIDS vaccine represents a leap forward in Basic Science understandings, which it sounds like it might, and the lessons will be applicable to all virus vaccines, not just AIDS.

- Asshole-blunt: you can't trust studies conducted in third world countries.

- There's moral hazard left, right and center on this. Post coming.