Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Drug Ads

Have you been noticing the recent trend in anti-drug advertisements now? Instead of focusing on the harder drugs like methamphetamines, cocaine/crack and heroin or psychoactive drugs in general, the partnership for a drug-free America is focusing on the dangers of marijuana.

The implied justification of trying to curb marijuana use is that once a teenager goes down that route they are more likely to try other illegal and mind-altering drugs. Marijuana may be relatively innocuous, but the fear is that it leads to a slippery slope of harder and harder drugs.

Perhaps the motivation is reasonable but the claims in these ads of heavy brain damage, horrific car accidents, dead babies, STDs and other terrible side-effects of using pot are durbious. While all results are technically possible, the claims made are exaggerations of the dangers of using the drug. The reality is that most occasional users will never run into these problems, just like social drinkers likely never run into the problems associated with alcohol abuse. And once people realize that the claims are faulty, perhaps the slippery slope of someone trying harder and harder drugs can ironically come true.

The intentions come from the right place in trying to convince people not to abuse drugs and ruin their lives, but the methods are just wrongheaded. Personally, I think anti-drug commercials would be much more effective doing things like showing the accelerated aging of meth-heads, heroin addicts talking about the depths they go to earn money, lives being ruined due to STDs coming from ecstasy-induced orgies and people talking about falling from the heights of success to do drugs etc. Show the truth about what some of these drugs can do to people and the public will begin to take drug warnings seriously again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Gone For Awhile

I am dealing with some difficult circumstances personally right now and thus do not have the mental energy to continue with this thing for awhile. I doubt many care, but for the few that do, I thought I would let you know. Thanks for your interest.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Star Wars Underwhelming

I finally broke down and watched the latest and last Star Wars movie. It certainly was not boring and had some nice parts here and there. Overall, though, the best I can say about the movie was that it was mixed. What hurt the movie the most was the role of Natalie Portman’s character in the end and the bad dialogue present throughout the movie.

For example, Ewan McGregor, playing Obi Wan Kenobi, says the following (or close to it) to Anakin Skywalker:

“Only Sith deal in absolutes!”

Is that not itself an absolute? So by making that claim, Kenobi is immediately contradicting himself. I thought the Jedi were supposed to be the smart ones in the Star Wars world.

Well, at least I have been hearing good things about the new Batman movie. Maybe I will enjoy that more.

Oh, have they found a cure for laziness yet?

Today’s Links of Note:

American Guards Discuss Their Experience Guarding Saddam

NY Times: Stadium Designs Around the World

Lowenstein: Freakonomics

Restaurant to Stop Putting Gold in Food

Brain Scans Find Female Orgasm Fakers

On this last story, am I the only one wondered how they were getting brain scans of people having an orgasm? Does it surprise no one that this was done by Europeans?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

JohnnyBlog Weekend Edition: Notable Stuff From Web

New York G.O.P. Clashes Over Candidates for 2006

Father Found Guilty of Killing 9 Children, Incest, Rape

BBCNews: Not Long for the Cassette

As TVs Grow So Do Electric Bills

WP: Javanomics 101: Today's Coffee is Tomorrow's Debt

Barnes: Prospective on Bush's Poll Numbers

Krauthammer: Assimilations is Key To Immigration Policy

Friedman: As Toyota Goes...

And The Others...

German Wal-Mart Employees Win Right To Flirt

I Remember "Grandpa's" Smile Very Well, He Never Paid for It

The Cleanest Cities

The Sweatiest Cities

Friday, June 17, 2005

Whiny-Ass Professors

Note: The following is a somewhat over-the-top rant meant to attack only asshole professors and not the good kind. Peace.

Cornell University, my alma matter, recently announced that President Jeffrey Lehman would be stepping down immediately from his position after being on the job for less than two years and that his predecessor, President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings, would be taking control on an interim basis.

While the likely reason for Lehman’s departure was figured out by many, it remains unknown for many others. It was obviously a popular topic of gossip among professors and others involved with the university; I have no problem with this fact. By the same token, it is understandable that many in authority at the university would want to discourage gossip, innuendo and other conspiratorial talk from damaging the university’s reputation and slandering those involved with the transition. So I was not surprised when I learned that Dr. Charles Walcott, a tenured biology professor and elected dean of faculty, had sent out a memo asking many to stop the overheated and damaging gossip.

Dear Fellow Faculty Member:

I am certainly aware of, and concerned about, the many questions and concerns that have arisen since Saturday's announcement by President Jeffrey Lehman that he will step down as president of Cornell at the end of June. There have been many who want to discuss this and speculate beyond what was contained in the press announcements and University statements. Speculation, however, is neither constructive nor productive. Instead, we need to look to the future.

If you are contacted by members of the press or other outside groups who wish to discuss these issues about which you have no information, please refer them to the office of Tommy Bruce, the University's Vice President for Communications...

For most people this would seem not only a reasonable move by a large organization, but also a wise and restrained response to inflammatory speculation coming from reckless faculty. Ah, but we forget how childish and arrogant many professors are when anyone dares tell one or some of them to stop acting like a dumb ass.

According to the Ithaca Journal, this memo has sparked “outrage” from those tireless defenders of “academic freedom.” (Please insert a picture of face making lame air-quotes and making sarcastic rolls of the eyes while I say these words.) Apparently just asking faculty members to stop spreading rumors around and damaging the reputation of the school they depend on is a near violation of their constitutional right and certainly an outrageous threat on their academic freedom.

Nowadays, the idea of academic freedom has simply become ridiculous. Suddenly academic freedom means not only its original meaning of the ability for tenured faculty to freely explore and discuss ideas without fear of professional consequences but now also includes the right to spend a biology class lecture railing against the Bush administration, protection from ever being challenged on what they say by officials and the unwashed masses as well as the general duty to spew whatever random crap they feel like riffing on (as long as it is supports liberal ideology). Suddenly academic freedom is “a constitutional right”, according to Boalt Law Professor Jesse Choper, and not just a tradition shared by all universities.

To just about everyone else who work in jobs where what you say during work hours and sometimes outside of work hours can potentially risk your employment, the hyperbole from these childish professors seems ridiculous. “You mean you already have no risk of losing your job, can say whatever you want and now you are bitching about someone telling to stop being retarded? Get over yourself!”

University faculties are becoming increasingly intellectually-inbred and yet many professors cannot understand why their stature has decreased among their students and among the public at large. Many professors act like spoiled children when anyone disagrees with them or when any of their feelings of superiority and entitlement are threatened. Many in the humanities spend most of their time thinking up pointless new ways of overanalyzing every part of the arts and society, thinking of irrelevant new departments like “Post-Modern Lesbian Sociology” and using their classes as compulsory political indoctrination for young college students. The subject of this post is just another of the thousands of examples where faculties have acted like spoiled children and it will not be the last.

I am left with a few final questions.

Do these professors realize that students are not producing work mirroring their point of view not just because students have acceded to their instructors' superior intellect but often because students do not want to risk a bad grade because the professor does not agree with what they believe?

Where were the calls for academic freedom when Larry Summers made his controversial remarks a couple of months ago?

Does this feeling of entitlement come from the fact that most of these angry professors never had to do real work in their lives and do not know how lucky they are to be in such privileged positions?

Why is it okay to question business ties of someone and the requisite conflicts of interest but not the conflicts of interest that professors have coming from the fact that they often rely on government spending, fed by other’s taxes, to support their research and salaries?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The JohnnyBlog's Lazy-Ass Thursday Post

Yeah so, I am tired and have no energy to think about life's big questions and controversies right now. But what the hell, I am going to go ahead and just give you a bunch of interesting articles to read instead:

TCS: PETA Equals People Enabling Terrorist Atrocities

NY Times: Demand for Natural Gas Brings Big Import Plans, and Objections

[Irony Department] Author of Book on Chicago Fire Jailed For Arson

NY Times: Dark Was the Young Knight Battling His Inner Demons

Operation Babylift Orphans Return to Vietnam

Trust Those Who Look Like You, Lust for the Ones Who Don’t

NY Times: All That Calcium, and Maybe Weight Control Too

David Brooks: Joe Strauss to Joe Six-Pack

NY Times: Studies Rebut Earlier Report on Pledges of Virgnity

Washington Post: Crab Part Male, Part Female, Fully Mysterious

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Marrital Idiocy

In the Science section of the New York Times on Tuesday, Claudia Dreifus interviews Stephanie Coontz who is promoting a book she wrote on marital history. The majority of the interview is humdrum, but I have to quibble with a couple of the questions and responses. It is pretty clear that Coontz is promoting a feminist prospective on marriage in this book, which I do not mind per se, but I do mind some leaps she makes.

Q. Some critics wonder whether the changes in marriage have been good for children. Are you sympathetic to their concerns?

A. Certainly the situation for modern families is not easy. But you know, when people romanticize the marriages of the past, they say, "Marriage is about making sure that every child has a mother and a father." But for thousands of years, marriage was about getting in-laws, making alliances, determining which child had a right to parents and inheritance. Illegitimate children had no rights. A lot of these traditionalists idealize a paradise that never was.

Where in her response does she actually address the fact that children, especially male children, are being hurt by single-mother househoulds? In econometric analysis of crime rates, for example, 50% of crime is linked, controlling for poverty, to single-mother households. What about the fact that children are now being more raised by day-care workers than by one of the parents? It seems like a non-sequitor response to avoid addressing a legitimate concern.

Q. What do you make of the fact that divorce rates are especially high in many "red" states like Oklahoma and Alabama?

A. I see it as a sign that families are changing so rapidly that stated values are poor predictors of actual behavior. Educated individuals are more likely to have a value system that says it's O.K. to be divorced, but they are less likely to do it. Blacks are more likely to disapprove of cohabitation than whites, but much more likely to cohabit. Oklahoma and Alabama have high divorce rates. Massachusetts, the poster state for liberalism, does not.

This was a rather loaded question by the interviewer and is the standard rebuttal by liberals on the values issue. The fact of the matter is that these statistics are very misleading. Perhaps the higher divorce rates in "red states" come from that fact that instead of cohabitating or fucking around a different person each month, people with a strong value system are much more likely to get married at a younger age especially if they are staying virgins until they are married. Perhaps people in “red states” are much less likely to do bullshit like open marriages and other perversions popular among the moral-relativists

Alternatively, perhaps the lower divorce rates in some “blue states” come from the differing numbers of Catholics in respective states. Contrary to idiotic stereotypes, Catholicism is one of the few Christian sects that actually has strong language against divorce. While many evangelical groups do not encourage divorce, they usually do not actually persecute the members who do it. There are simply more Catholics in Massachusetts than there are Oklahoma or Alabama. Any “scientist” like Coontz should be statistically rigorous enough to test other possibilities or at least suggest them.

Q. What's the upside to the marriage revolution?

A. How much men have changed in these past 30 years. You never used to see men with their children. Husbands may now believe they do more housework than they in fact do, but they are doing some. When I see the wonderful, respectful relationships that my son and his friends have with the women in their lives, I see something really new.

I assume Coontz is talking about the upside for women and not for men. She backs up none of what she is saying with evidence here and is just spouting out her assumptions and anecdotal observations. Men did not used to be seen with their children? Perhaps that was because in the past parents did not feel the need to bring out their children in public as some sort of expensive accessory to flaunt. Perhaps they believed more in spending quality time with the children at home rather than over-scheduling their children into pointless, structured activities. Perhaps men had to work a lot more back in the day or did less housework in the past because they were doing things like yard work, fixing appliances etc.

The truth of the matter is that being a man is no longer respected anymore among the establishment anymore. Now boys in school are pussified, restrained and forced to conform into feminine ways of learning. A father’s contribution to parenting and to a marriage is mocked by popular culture. Men are always portrayed as the bumbling idiots in sitcoms and advertisements. Positive masculine attributes of self-sacrifice, bravery, and strength are belittled and viewed as outmoded. Now we don’t usually bitch about this because we can take it but sometimes men do not know what the fuck they are supposed to be doing now. While woman needed to have their full potential for success opened up to them as well as full rights as citizens, the accompanying social side-effects have not necessarily been all candy and rainbows. Being blind to this is dangerous for the long term health of our families and our society.

Why are strong marriages so good for society? Well, there are a number of reasons but the key is that women make men not be stupid. They force men to stop taking dumb risks, stop sleeping around with anything that has a hole and stop starting fights with every damn person. They also are more likely to get on men to eat better, take showers and other frou frou stuff. I hear this is good for quality of life, but what do I know.

That’s enough for today as I am hungry. Sorry if I offended anyone as I am stupid sometimes.

Lou Costanza

Is it just me or does Lou Pinella seem to be acting like George in the Seinfeld episode where he was trying to get fired by the Yankees in order to get a better job with the Mets? (For those who have not been following the story, the D-Rays manager keeps on blasting the stingy Tampa Bay ownership for not providing him with enough talent to win.) More on the story here.

Costanza dragged old Yankee trophies from the back of his car while he drove, ate strawberries while he wore Babe Ruth’s old uniform and said outrageous things to Yankee employees. The result? Steinbrenner calls George into his office to laud him for his efforts to forget the past and look towards the future. In a similar fashion perhaps Pinella will end up with a raise, but I think Sweet Lou would rather be released from his contract so he can manage a team more likely to contend.

Stuff of Note from the Web

NYTimes: Rockies' Fans and Revenues Are Vanishing Into Thin Air

Real Clear Politics: United We Fall

The Onion [Humor]: Chinese Factory Worker Can't Believe The Shit He Makes For Americans

The Onion [Humor]: Portugal Finally Gets Its Act Together

John Tierney: The Old and the Rested

Samuelson: The End of Europe

AP: Teen Charged After Vomiting on Teacher