Tuesday, April 19, 2005

WE HAVE A NEW POPE!

The magical white smoke was seen wafting above the Vatican chimney with care and the assembled crowd of thousands in St. Peter's Square now know for whom the bells toll. The Catholic faith and the city-state of Vatican City has a new leader, arrived at after a surprisingly short cardinal conclave.

And the winner is: Chris Rock, who will now be called Pope Christopher Pius Irreverent the First. Word inside the Vatican is that Rock will appeal to a much younger demographic, the very same demographic that has been leaving the Catholic Church in droves in recent years because of conflicts with the Church over issues such as abortion, divorce and a sex abuse scandal involving priests. Rock has said that although he is not actually Catholic, he believes he can bridge the gap between the conservative church orthodoxy and the modern Catholic, all while "keepin' it real." Observers believe it will be interesting to see how Pope Irreverent manages to tone down his edgy comedy for the much more staid and ceremonial pope position.

Immediately following the announcement, ABC and the Motion Picture Academy reportedly thanked Rock for hosting last year's Oscars while putting out feelers to Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Father Guido Sarducci to host next year's Academy Awards.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

FENDER BENDERS...

Dead Pope Now Appearing Live Daily

This will undoubtedly offend some people who stumble across this blog, but honestly aren't we supposed to be a little too advanced as a people for the outpouring of idol worship that is masquerading as mourning for the pope? Yes, I'm not Catholic and true, the good works of archdioceses around the globe have helped provide education, clothing and shelter, especially in the Third World (would there be anybody left in Rwanda if not the nuns who harbored thousands during the massacres?) But if any other religion that didn't have the Roman Catholic brand name had a titular leader who was elected by a secret society of scarcely known old men and this leader were allowed to make pronouncements that upheld the doctrine of celibacy for its male preachers, that said women weren't fit to serve in the same capacity as men within the church, that divorce was a sin against God and not permitted, just to name a few, then most people, religous or not, would probably brand that religion as a "cult" and it's leader as a reactionary "megalomaniac".

It's good to be able to trace your history all the way back to the apostle Paul and the old J.C., but it's also a good thing for a church ( one which so many people put their faith and goodwill behind) to be able to evolve a little too. After all, most of what the Catholic Church preaches--and what this pope and any pope stands for--wasn't written in the Bible by apostles, but set down as church doctrine by politically savvy and self-interested men. In that regard, the pope who's death means so much to so many probably shouldn't be accorded any more special regard than any other deceased head of state.

And you know what? Saying so doesn't consign you to hell, although it won't get me invited to any of Mel Gibson's parties.

NBC's Revelations

The West Wing becomes the first series to have it's season finale tonight (9pm EST, NBC) and next week NBC puts the limited-run series Revelations on in West Wing's timeslot. I'm intrigued by this little bit of counterprogramming, because the series, loosely based on the gloomy predictions of the Bible's final book, lays out a fantasy scenario about how the "revelations" might play out today. *SPOILER* I'm betting that at the end, the little devil baby from the promos grows up to be George W. Bush. Or at the very least, Dick Cheney.

Readin', Writin' and Evolvin'

Dozens of science museums and IMAX movie theaters across the South (and why does that region of the country deserve to be capitalized?) still refuse to show the James Cameron produced IMAX movie Volcanoes of the Deep, because of scenes that apparently illustrate or discuss evolution as fact. (Disclosure: I have not yet seen the movie). It's not like there are widespread protests against this movie--some theaters just refuse to show it in anticipation of being picketed by narrow-minded troglodytes. To these brave souls I would like to ask just one question: Do you even understand what the "science" in your science museum is supposed to be about? And how about an American culture where we censor ourselves because we're afraid that some vocal (and wrongheaded) people will exorcise their right to free speech? That's like cutting off your leg because it might get caught in a bear trap.

Cablevision Bids to Buy Adelphia

As we rapidly approach the day when all things media related are owned by the same five or six megacorps, I must say that as someone who has suffered through Adelphia's idea of both cable and Internet "service" it's not hard to see why they are bankrupt. In the good old days, Adelphia would probably go out of business with their remains feasted upon by the strong, but this potential merger will probably bail them out so they can all continue to rip us off another day. To all of this I say to the FCC, "Abre los ojos"...open your eyes.

Until I piss you off again, peace...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Less is Not More

Not that it is the least surprising to those who work to better women's lives and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but here comes yet another report saying that abstinence-only education does more harm than good: UGANDA: Rights group criticises emphasis on abstinence. Ya don't say.
In a new report, titled: "The Less They Know, the Better: Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda", HRW said the Ugandan government had removed critical HIV/AIDS information from primary school curricula, including information about condoms, safer sex, and the risks of HIV in marriage.

"These abstinence-only programmes leave Uganda's children at risk of HIV," Jonathan Cohen, an HRW researcher, and co-author of the report, said in a press statement on Wednesday.

"Draft secondary school materials state falsely that latex condoms have microscopic pores that can be permeated by HIV, and that pre-marital sex is a form of 'deviance'," the statement added.
Ugandan health officials deny that they are cutting condoms from the curriculum, even as Human Rights Watch is asserting that condoms are being restricted in other, more significant ways:
Uganda has been widely acclaimed for its success in the fight against HIV/AIDS, managing to bring its prevalence levels down from over 20 percent in the late 1980s, to around six percent by the end of 2003.

Much of this success has been credited to the ABC strategy. However, HRW said condoms were being left out of the equation, especially for young people, an approach the report claimed was orchestrated and funded by the US government.

"As the largest single donor to HIV/AIDS programs in Uganda, the United States is using its unparalleled influence to export abstinence-only programs that have been an abject failure in its own country," the report stated.

It added that as of November 2004, the US embassy in Kampala had budgeted about US $8 million for "abstinence and behaviour change" in the country. That same month, HRW alleges, the Uganda AIDS Commission drafted an "Abstinence and Being Faithful" (AB) strategy, saying that the inclusion of condoms in the strategy could be confusing to young people.

At an international AIDS summit in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2004, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni decried condoms as encouraging promiscuity, and lashed out at them as inappropriate for Ugandans.

"I look at condoms as an improvisation, not a solution," Museveni said, adding that he preferred "optimal relationships based on love and trust instead of institutionalized mistrust, which is what the condom is all about."

The report said Ugandan first lady, Janet Museveni, one of the leading proponents of abstinence in Uganda, was using her position of influence to "intimidate organisations that promote condoms to young people".

Uganda, it added, was faced with a nationwide condom shortage due to new government restrictions on condom imports. The report added that when the health ministry recalled a batch of condoms due to failed quality, rather than address the shortage, some ministers suggested that Ugandans adopt abstinence as a preferable HIV-prevention strategy.

"Uganda is gradually removing condoms from its HIV/AIDS strategy, and the consequences could be fatal," Tony Tate, an HRW researcher and co-author of the report, said in a statement.
Goddam B*shCo. If they're not dropping one sort of bomb, they're dropping another. It should be illegal for them to export such deadly influence.