There’s this kid on this water bottle. He’s drinking water from a hose. That’s not the first thing you notice when you pick up the bottle near the cashier at the Whole Foods on the corner of Fairfax and Santa Monica because you’re too far into line to ask the peevish hippie waiting behind you with, ironically, an armload of bath salts to save your place in order that you might run to the water aisle and pick up a bottle of whatever cheaper brand – then again, it’s Whole Foods.
The first thing you notice is that the kid is black. Not necessarily African-American, in fact, you know he’s not African-American. You know, purportedly, he lives either in Central America, South America or Sub-Saharan Africa. You know this because you’ve see dozens of sectarian advertisements for kids just like him throughout your life. (Can we get a success story, by the way? Thanks to your donations, Nabil survived childhood in Botswana and went on to revolutionize the use of foreign aid in his country, helping the once struggling, dependant African nation form a functional, sustainable, economy. Something like that? Anything? Anything other than "Send More Mosquito Nets"?)
After that, you notice that the kid is part of notice for a "charitable" (heavy quotations) program run by the water company, in this case, Volvic. On the company’s website, the "DRINK 1, GIVE 10" campaign is described in the following language and capital letters (kids on the website, definitely Central/South American):
EACH TIME YOU BUY A LITER OF VOLVIC NATURAL SPRING WATER IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA BETWEEN AUGUST 1ST AND OCTOBER 31ST 2010, VOLVIC DONATES FIVE CENTS TO THE RAINFOREST FOUNDATION TO SUPPORT 10 PROJECTS THAT HELP PROTECT RAINFORESTS IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA.
Looking at the kid on the bottle, you think that the campaign helps bring water to those in need – in Sudan, in Haiti in Guatemala, in wherever. And you’d think that if you bought one of these bottles, you would give 10 kids drinking water for half a day, or some other arbitrary amount of time.
The name of the campaign is completely misleading. No water is going to anyone. Buying this one bottle is not giving 10 of anything. Buying this one bottle – mind you, you bought it because you didn’t want to get out of line at a Whole Foods in West Hollywood – will cause a nickel to go to another charity to support indigenous people living on their own land.
Fair enough: Saving rainforest vegetation and natural habitat is inarguably a cause worth looking into. However, it has nothing to do with "drinking 1 and giving 10." Plus, look how much water the kid on the damn bottle is wasting; we could "drink 1, give 400" if he would just use a cup and a straw.
After your anger with the boy and the photographer subsides, you consider that this "Drink 1, Give 10" campaign must have roots elsewhere, in something having something to do with drinking water in deprived nations. Turns out that’s true. Since 2005, around $3.6 million has been raised to support UNICEF programs that provided clean drinking water to kids in Ethiopia, Niger and Mali.
Now that sounds worthwhile. But in the smaller print at the bottom of the page, it gets confusing once again:
"For each liter of Volvic bottled water purchased in the U.S. and Canada in 2008 and 2009, Volvic donated over $500,000 to support UNICEF programs that provided at least 10 liters of clean water to children in Africa, including building wells."
First of all, this program isn’t doing so well. Over three and a half million dollars from 2005-2007 and only half a million in 2008 and 2009. That’s going from raising $1.2 million a year to $250,000 a year. (That's right; it's called math, people.) That’s an 80 percent decrease in donations to UNICEF.
Looked at from another angle: For each liter purchased in two years, Volvic donated half a million bucks. For each liter. I'm not ready to invest in that business plan.
Either the basic syntax of the statement is off or something in Volvic's accounting books has gone askew.
Also, that sentence in the small print makes no sense. Did the 10 liters of clean water go to every child in Africa? Three children in Africa? And over what period of time? The idea sounds all flowery and substantial, but, it turns into absolutely nothing, or worse: it turns into exploitation.
There’s no grand political point to this column. You just wanted to make sure that everyone knew you slaked your thirst with your purchases from Whole Foods; despite popular belief based on the bottles in your recycling container, you did not help one child, let alone 10, anywhere. Thanks, Volvic.
Taylor Lautner didn’t get his RV on time to film his latest movie. By now, we get it: "In a suit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lautner claims his dad, Dan Lautner, negotiated with the Irvine, Calif.-based McMahon's RV dealership to deliver a $300,000 customized 2006 Affinity Country Coach RV by a June deadline so the star wouldn't have to rough it on the set of the thriller ‘Abduction.’"
I’m tempted to agree; that is annoying. When you pay for a new 80-inch flat-screen to arrive in time for the UVA-USC football game, you would prefer that 80-inch flat-screen was delivered at least by the morning of game day. If it doesn’t arrive, it ruins everything. The chips are soggy, the beer is flat, no one shows up, and, because you have no portal on which to watch the match du foot, you’re preferred team more likely than not loses. If that kind of personal trauma doesn’t scream for a lawsuit, the only thing that does is a baby named "Lindsay" in a Super Bowl commercial.
Taylor Lautner is suing, not because he is over reacting, but because his party was ruined. Unfortunately for Taylor, a lawsuit is tantamount to going back to the electronics store where you purchased your 80-inch flat-screen and threatening to burn it down if you don’t get your 80-inch flat-screen right now for 60 percent off. If that seems a little over the top obnoxious, it’s because it is a little over the top obnoxious.
The damage is already done. The game is already over. You can either quietly threaten to break the legs of the store manager’s 9-year-old tabby or you can wait until you get your TV and move on. Needlessly drawing more attention, especially when you just were the most naked star in the (um) third biggest film (used for lack of a better) of the summer is not even the third best decision in that situation. (The makers of Toy Story 3 would have picked the best.)
What’s worse is the suit has given Brent McMahon, owner of the Irvine-based McMahon's RV, the opportunity for more press out of this – and the opportunity to pay Lautner exactly shit for the tardy RV.
This morning, McMahon challenged Lautner to a push-up contest. The winner of the contest gets the $40,000 demanded in the suit donated to charity. The Hollywood Reporter (er) reports: "If Lautner shows up and wins the push-up contest, McMahon will pay him and his Shark Kid Entertainment the $40,000 to settle the case. If McMahon wins, he'll donate the $40,000 to Children's Hospital of Orange County."
Who feels like an asshole now? What are the possible outcomes?
Lautner says no to the push-up contest; Launter hates needy children.
Lautner says yes to the push-up contest and wins and keeps the money; Lautner hates needy children.
Lautner says yes to the push-up contest and loses; Lautner lost a push-up contest to a 47-year-old car salesman who steals a solid 15 minutes and a number of RV sales and a shit-load of essentially free publicity (dependant on the tax laws in California.)
No matter what the outcome, one thing is certain. Taylor Lautner’s next movie, "Abduction," is gonna suck because he didn’t have his goddam $300,000 RV on time. The children lose again.
When I reported for jury duty around a year ago in Los Angeles County, we were informed within the first ten minutes that we should not expect to come in on Friday or Monday… or Wednesday afternoon because, if we weren’t already aware (and those who weren’t were quickly selected to serve), there was a budget crisis in the state of California, and the courts were closed at those times in order to save a little tax payer pocket change.
The case, about which I’m not allowed to speak, was a breaking and entering arrest of a homeless man with which a number of those selected to serve professed ethical problems in an attempt at jury evasion. This went on for a number of days. There were undoubtedly more pressing cases upon which the courts could have focused. If this case wasn’t reason enough to question LA County’s ability to prioritize, the Lindsay Lohan case certainly is.
While Judge Vaughn Walker had the pleasure of writing a 136-page essay on why a ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional, Judge Elden Fox is now famous for grounding Lindsay Lohan. A Google Image search for “Judge Elden Fox” brings up around ten-thousand photos of LL in around 0.38 seconds. Now that’s a legacy.
Judge Fox put a great deal of thought into the restrictions on Miss LL. As reported by Us Weekly, Lindsay must “reside at her Los Angeles-area home, and is not permitted to leave the state until [November 1]; she must attend psychotherapy sessions five times per week; she must speak with a ‘chemical dependency mentor’ at least seven times a week; she must attend meetings for a 12-step dependency program five times a week, and submit to behavioral therapy twice weekly. Most importantly, Lohan will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing at least twice a week.”
And. If she EVER tests positive for drugs or alcohol, it’s 30 days in the clink (from which she was previously sprung due to “chronic overcrowding”) for old Lindsay.
I admire Lindsay Lohan because she has managed to become such a danger to society, we need to threaten her with captivity in order to keep the streets of Southern California safe. In a state where early release of gang members (ok, shoplifters) was implemented because they didn’t have enough money to keep a watchful eye, they are going to lockup a depressed starlet if she has just one more Mai Tai.
These measures and the time spent by the LA County court system may seem extraordinary to you, but, if that’s the case, you must not live in SoCal, where, every time we set foot into the Santa Monica crosswalk, we are alert with gazelle-like fear that a white SUV, piloted by the star of “Freaky Friday,” will turn the corner on two wheels and plow over our sober souls without enough courtesy to even active the wipers, thus expunging our splattered remains from the windshield.
If we can’t sanction Iran, we will, by god, at least sanction Lindsay Lohan.
He's killing God. The words were repeated throughout the evening, whenever someone would ask, within earshot of the blonde hostess, what book was I reading. "The End of Faith," by Sam Harris. He's killing God.
The blonde hostess has never read the book, discerning, correctly more or less, only from the title that it is a denouncement of religion and therefore a denial of the godhead present at the core of each of the world's religions. The book’s message can be neatly summarized by something William Durant said over 60 years ago, and something that Harris repeats in his book: "Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith; tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous."
Harris, himself says: "The only angels we need invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty, and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance, hatred, greed, and faith, which is surely the devil's masterpiece."
The bold author and speaker hits a truculent precipice along his secular highway when it comes to the proposed mosque at Ground Zero in Manhattan. Harris says that building the mosque is, indeed, a First Amendment right. However, there is a fundamental problem with tolerance in Islam today and moderate Muslims, above all others, should see that that problem persists and should also understand why building a mosque at Ground Zero, while a right, is in bad taste.
The Bad Taste argument has been proposed by other less-than-conservatives such as Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, who last week wrote, "While no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive." (There, in fact, exists a Japanese cultural center just up the road from Pearl Harbor in Honolulu; given, it’s not set on the submerged U.S.S. Arizona.)
Theses points are by no means invalid and therein lies the conundrum; President Barack Obama was not beyond all reason, either, last week.
"I understand the emotions that this issue engenders," said the President. "The Ground Zero is indeed a hallowed ground. But let me be clear. As a citizen and as president I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."
It is indeed a conundrum. One that I can only wrap my head around if I attack from a personal level, a perspective at which those who lost family members and friends on September 11, 2001 must be experiencing.
Say someone murdered my family at my childhood home and then he immediately killed himself. Five years later, I still live there. Would I be opposed to the murderer’s family moving in next door or starting a lemonade stand on the corner? Yes. Undoubtedly. I would fight with fire and blade to stop that from happening.
But that is not what is happening at Ground Zero.
A 15-story mosque at Ground Zero is not my family’s murderers setting up a lemonade stand next to the place of my family’s murder. Neither is it people who condone the murder of my family doing the same. It is people who like to listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd, just like the murderer of my family did, setting up that lemonade stand. And, as much as that makes me miss my family, as much as that makes me want to break the Sweet Home Alabama boom boxes in the lemonade pushers' rectums, as much as I never will and never should forget, within me, rationally within me, I know it is not only illogical to hate them and disapprove their nascent lemonade business, I know my condemnation is Wrong.
At this point we need tolerance. That is what Harris argues, as well. Harris wants an end to faith, an end to faith-driven causes such as religion – Islam, Christianity, whatever – because he aims for an end to intolerance. However, if we end intolerance by ending faith, then we have nothing to tolerate. There is no fun in killing God.
Harris is right in one respect: intolerance begets intolerance. What, then, begets tolerance…
That is why they should build the mosque.
By definition, the term "ground zero" is terrifically interesting, simultaneously meaning "where it all began" and "the point of detonation" – or, in other words, "where it all ended." I find it horribly appropriate for the site in Lower Manhattan. Let Ground Zero, New York City not merely be the tragic place where it all ended. Let it also become the place where we began again.
Rare is the occasion that I write something personal. However, things have been stressful enough recently to cause me to dream in angst. That angst crescendoed over the week and peaked (hopefully) last night. The following are brief summaries of dreams for the week:
MONDAY: At my old job, new boss shows up; I scream at him for following me everywhere.
TUESDAY: At new job, but around a pool at a swim meet; guest performing, microphones don’t work; I yell at a boss from three jobs ago and at the musical director, whom I've never before seen.
WEDNESDAY: At old job, making out with old boss' girlfriend who also works at old job; old boss walks in; I scream at him for not paying attention to what I put on his desk.
THURSDAY: At Walgreens with George H. W. Bush; he is telling me about his grandfather making money in the steel business; I yell at him for taking too long to decide what to buy.
Wedding season just got a little more fashionable, little more fabulous and a little bit fiercer. And just in time. This year, it’s going to be the best wedding season ever – not for the open bars and conga lines and shirtless men, but for the reactions of people so adamantly opposed to something that, immediately and directly, does not affect them at all – only what they think are their values.
Today, Federal Judge Vaughn Walker has the opportunity to make his decision to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage official. From his conclusion on Wednesday:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
One thoughtful woman commented on the decision to NPR: "If not allowing gays to marry is unconstitutional, why has it not been brought up until now?" As if, for the last 222 years, since the U.S. Constitution was ratified (or 131 years since California’s current constitution was adopted), through slavery, suffrage, economic hardships and war, the legislative branch of the United States government had nothing better to do than to sit and ponder, "There really aren’t enough show tunes played at weddings; I wonder why that is…"
Others disapproved on a legal basis. Proposition 8 was not unconstitutional, a single federal judge overturning the will of the people in a legal vote, now that is. The problem with this logic is thick and deep. Were the United States to take a vote in 1860, five years before Amendment 13 said, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction," it is likely (based on my vast historical, social and anthropological knowledge) a proposition ensuring slavery for the next 300 years would have found overwhelming support among United States citizens who were allowed to vote.
Judge Walker addressed this, as well, in his decision: That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as "fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."
Regardless, votes and polls are so close, it makes little sense to restrict liberty based on their results. A California Field poll of registered voters last month found 51 percent support legalizing gay marriage with 42 percent opposed. While, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 47 percent of Americans polled favor gay marriage while 50 percent are opposed.
And others repeat, soullessly, their moral objection that marriage is the sacred bond between a man and a woman, that gay marriage will destroy the American family (such an upstanding convention as it is), that children in America will suffer from confusion and will opt for hedonistic sodomy and will cause a run on glitter at every corner craft store in the nation.
Judge Walker had this to say on moral disapproval: "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples."
As usual, the best reaction came from Fox News. On Thursday, the organization posted a hard-hitting, in-depth investigative piece – on celebrity Twitter reaction.
Tongue stabbing far into cheek, Fox News reported: "I am ecstatic that proposition 8 has been overturned in the state of California. This is an incredibly exciting and historical day and a big step towards equal rights for all," [Portia de Rossi] told Pop Tarts in a statement. They went on to post tweets from Kim Kardashian, Ricky Martin, Adam Lambert, Paris Hilton – causing eye-rolls across America, from Alabama to Montana. Those silly celebrities are at it again!
Starting today, wedding season swings fully into freak mode. Grab your hair product and leave your shirt and home and let’s go! Before it’s too late; there are warnings that these gay old times won’t last forever.
"Let's not lose sight of the fact that this case is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court," said Maggie Gallagher, chair of the National Organization for Marriage, "where the right of states to define marriage as being between one man and one woman will be affirmed."
I think the decisions you’ve made are like crap from a constipated iguana. Your mere existence is a waste of internal organs. Therefore, our policies should change.
If that’s you, if your name is Tom and you wrote that letter, you may need ToneCheck, simultaneously one of the most necessary and obnoxious advancements in email technology since laughing out loud was shortened to three simple letters.
The basic idea behind ToneCheck is that people don’t know how to properly express themselves in writing and we need to help them. Often, it seems, people sound more angry on email than they actually are. One example is "understood" versus "understand". If you were to say, "You misunderstood," the inferred meaning is generally more aggressive than saying, "You misunderstand."
The idea of ToneCheck is valid enough. Each of us has received (and probably sent) a number of emails that were taken the wrong way. And, more likely than not, we know of a few people in each of our lives that would greatly benefit from a program that made sure they weren’t being complete jackasses before clicking SEND. On every email.
The unfortunate thing about ToneCheck is that it’s just another crutch in a line of instruments that hurt communication by helping communication. I don’t want to get all Grandpa Luddite – technology is ruining the way we interact with people, people should get off their BlackBerrys and look at where they are, stop texting while driving, call your Aunt instead of emailing her for Godsake, no one writes letters anymore and our children’s penmanship atrocious! However, ToneCheck is going to kill me and then kill all of you once I’m gone.
ToneCheck does not replace bad spelling (lazyness) or bad grammar (stupidity and laziness); it replaces common sense.
The example on the ToneCheck website is an email that reads: Bob, You should get off your pedestal and listen to your sales team. They do support you and will do what needs to get done. Sincerely, Mary.
ToneCheck has an angry face near the underlined portion. Why: to indicate that that portion of the letter conveys an angry tone.
No shit. I’d like to see Mary walk into Bob’s office and say that sentence kindly. It’s angry because it is intended to be angry, not because Mary is trying to take it easy on Bob. If that’s the case, Mary is a sociopath and we’ve a whole other postal-worker issue on our hands beyond the tone she’s taking in her intra-office memos.
Let’s keep it simple. We can tonecheck ourselves using techniques and technologies that we already use everyday anyway – a little decency and respect and common sense and, of course, a little smiley changes everything:
I think the decisions you’ve made are like crap from a constipated iguana :) Your mere existence is a waste of internal organs ;) Therefore, our policies should change… :-) :^) :-D
From the back of the audience, lost beneath angled lights and slightly shifting bodies, I listened to the comedian without laughing. A band was on the stage beside him and he referenced each member individually. That’s Hector Castro on the keyboard; he says he’s from Miami but everyone knows your last name, Hector, and everyone knows that 20 years ago you were on a Goodyear tire in the middle of the Caribbean, praying not to float to Cancun. The comedian did a pantomime of Hector praying on his defection raft. Our front man, Willy Jones; Willy is African American; move into the light Willy, no one can see you. Willy convulsed silently with laughter, his huge mouth opened and huge teeth glimmered. I expected the comedian to comment on the apparition-like appearance of Willy’s smile – but he moves on. And way back there on the drums and saxophone, we got Joe Miller and Tommy Hatsfield, the white guys. This band is like a dyslexic bus in 1961 Alabama.
I sat silently because everyone else was laughing. And not the uncomfortable, I-can’t-believe-he-said-that laughter, but genuine laughter. I wasn’t laughing because I was paying attention to why these jokes were funny and how they worked with this audience. (The comedian was astute, to be sure, but I think it’s worth mentioning, for my own critical reputation if for no other reason, that this guy wasn’t that funny or edgy; the jokes he had were, comparatively, incredibly tame.) Racism has been something of a style or a device of comedy forever, seen in two forms: the actual racism of blackface and minstrel shows and rants of Michael Richards that serves only hatred; and the friendly, ironic racism that serves equally to point out differences as it does to edify that those differences are petty.
One of the clearest and most recent examples of this took place during the appearance of the cast of the film "Grown Ups" on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel adroitly takes a racial thought and flips it soundly on its ear around the 1:30 mark of this clip:
In the last ten years, the friendly, ironic form of racism in comedy has lead the way in cautiously brining us closer together while undermining the litigious decades of political correctness that began sometime around "where's the beef?" At a delicate pace, even the backlash against political correctness has become passé – try creating a show called "Politically Incorrect" today and you’ll be met with, "Yes, but what makes it different?"
This begs the question: What is next for political correctness?, which I’ve wondered, inappropriately and aloud at times. While Kimmel and Chris Rock seem to be able to banter comfortably about black and white, Jon Stewart can take the same dry tone with Judaism, Ellen DeGeneres with homosexuality, Ricky Gervais with obesity and the mentally handicapped, and Sarah Silverman with just about anything she can get her greedy, JAP-y, whore-ish mouth on when it isn't replete with Asian cock, none of them seem capable of defining what the next step is in the fight against fear and political correctness.
At times answers sail from the oddest windows and mug you around the most surprising corners. This one came from Thomas "The Moustache" Friedman in today’s New York Times. The Moustache’s column was on the firing of CNN senior editor of Middle East affairs, Octavia Nasr after she Tweeted her condolences for the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a Shiite spiritual leader involved in the founding of Hezbollah.
"Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah," Nasr wrote. She was subsequently dismissed from CNN, a move that proves only that CNN is racist.
Freidman’s moustache noted, and rightly so, that a journalist should lose her job for "misreporting, for misquoting, for fabricating, for plagiarizing, for systemic bias," not for an innocuous text barely mourning the passing of a man whose life was complex enough to warrant defense by numerous American journalists for his stance on women’s rights and his repudiation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Friedman continued:
"What signal are we sending young people? Trim your sails, be politically correct, don’t say anything that will get you flamed by one constituency or another. And if you ever want a job in government, national journalism or as president of Harvard, play it safe and don’t take any intellectual chances that might offend someone. In the age of Google, when everything you say is forever searchable, the future belongs to those who leave no footprints."
The Moustache’s words (whether or not he meant them in this way) suggest that political correctness is not just passé, it is detrimental to our society. If we hide behind good manners, pretending there is nothing odd or different or interesting about each other, we run the risk of vitriolic internal attrition that will wear away at the guts of our culture until it implodes, probably violently.
The next step is an active fight against political correctness, while keeping up the conscious fight against prejudice, racism and all things Gibsonian. The next step is not trusting people who have no dissenting opinions nor appreciation for the comedic. The next step, my American friends, is boarding the dyslexic bus.
Ignatius J. Reilly was surprised to learn that the sailor prancing down Chartres Street was not a sailor at all.
"What?" Ignatius thundered. "Do you mean that he is impersonating a member of the armed forces of this country? ... This is extremely serious." Ignatius frowned and the red sateen scarf rode down on his hunting cap. "Every soldier and sailor that we see could simply be some mad decadent in disguise. My God! We may all be trapped in some horrible conspiracy. I knew that something like this was going to happen. The United States is probably totally defenseless!"
The comical reaction of John Toole Kennedy’s anti-hero in "A Confederacy of Dunces" could easily repeat and reverberate throughout the U.S. Armed Forces when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is finally repealed.
You mean he’s gay? My God! The United States is probably totally defenseless.
This week, the Pentagon set out to ask those defending the United States how they would feel to know that the country was totally defenseless. On Wednesday, they began emailing a survey, which contains more than 100 questions seeking views on the impact of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to around 400,000 active duty and reserve troops.
The survey was evidently approved (in theory, anyway, if not question-by-question) by Sec. Robert Gates and President Barack Obama. Almost immediately, a few concerns have surfaced in light of the survey.
One of those: service men, no matter how thankful we are to them for their service, have never been a dependable compass when it comes to the implementation of policy. As one expert put it on CNN yesterday, those in the military were at first resistant to blacks and women serving on the frontlines, too.
On top of that, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which supports gays and lesbians serving openly, released a statement say that it cannot recommend that lesbian, gay, or bisexual service members fill out the survey – not that it recommended LGB (gonna leave transgender out of this one for hopefully obvious reasons) service members do not fill in hte blanks, but that the organization just couldn’t get behind something that might out gays or lesbians…even though the entire point of the organization is for gays and lesbians to be able to serve openly in the military. Sigh...
"There is no guarantee of privacy and (the Pentagon) has not agreed to provide immunity to service members whose privacy may be inadvertently violated or who inadvertently outs himself or herself," said Aubrey Sarvis, the group's executive director. "If a service member still wishes to participate, he or she should only do so in a manner that does not reveal sexual orientation."
If you’re a member of the military, don’t listen to either of the aforementioned reasons. Fill out the survey. Here’s why: you know Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is an absurd policy, and your answers don’t matter anyway. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be repealed. This survey is the government’s way of placating critics, pretending to take your opinion under consideration simply so that they can later say they did. It’s like asking if you’d appreciate a blow job from Lara Logan; the answer is yes (unless you’re gay, then maybe Anderson Cooper), but that doesn’t mean that that answer won’t meet the e-shredder the moment it leaves your outbox.
As for the actual questions, the Pentagon is keeping the survey secret for now, but Military Times reviewed a draft copy: "[I]f the draft version is any guide, the general tone of the survey questions – developed by the independent research group Westat in cooperation with the Pentagon – leans toward the potential impact that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" might have on unit performance."
With that in mind, here are some possible sample questions for those who did not get the survey to consider:
How do you think morale would be affected were openly gay people to serve in the military?
How would readiness and willingness of troops be affected if their commander is thought to be gay or lesbian?
How would the repeal affect your spouse's, family's or "significant other's" attitude toward your continued military service?
Do you like cock?
Are you comfortable sharing a room, showering, etc. in warzones with someone who might be gay or lesbian?
Ironically, the major behavior change in male soldiers might be attenuation of gayness in the rooms and showers in warzones. They might stop grabbing each other’s asses and balls and calling each other faggot.
Or (shrug) that won’t stop and if that’s the case, if the law is repealed and men on the frontlines continue their usual homosexual/anti-homosexual antics (which are clearly posturing mechanisms to display their toughness), we just might find ourselves in the best possible situation: we are forced to be bone-core honest.
Gays and lesbians in the military would be required to continue to wear the warzone-thick skin they should wear in a freaking warzone anyway, and non-gay and lesbians would lose the pejorative; the same anti-gay comment they would have made with malice ten years ago, would not convey the same spite in an openly gay unit. Were they to make that comment in an openly gay military warzone with openly gay comrades (as I hope they would), morale would not be shattered, feelings would not be hurt, dissention would not descend. Quite the opposite. That kind of honesty and kidding would enmesh our men and women (psychologically, not physically), making them better friends, better soldiers, and a better team.
Maybe, in the end, everyone in the military would become gay. Wouldn’t that be nice. Ignatius thinks so: "The power-crazed leaders of the world would certainly be surprised to find that their military leaders and troops were only masquerading sodomites who were only too eager to meet the masquerading sodomite armies of other nations in order to have dances and balls and learn some foreign dance steps."
Over the weekend marking the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thousands of patriots and parishioners sat to enjoy a game that was born around the same era, in one form or another, in the country from which the United States of America ratified a their declaration on that Thursday afternoon in July.
The game is baseball. The origins of the game are as oft and passionately debated as the origins of just about anything that evolves slowly, steadily from one incarnation to another with almost imperceptible change until it reaches its current, roid-ridden form. In 2005, David Block published a booked called "Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game" in which he suggested, based on certain historical evidence, that modern day baseball is a variant of an mid-eighteenth century British game called rounders – and that both games were descendents of English games of stoolball and "tut-ball."
Whether brought by the English or the Irish, or based on a French game from the 14th century, baseball has been with America since the beginning and has, like all great "American" loves, been slowly seduced into bed and kept as our own. In recent years, many have questioned the stamp "national pastime," saying baseball is less popular, slower, less characteristically "American" than, say, football. Baseball’s detractors discredit the game’s traditional place in our society, but they do so without warrant.
Baseball is America not because the game was with us in the beginning, but because the game has come to metaphorically define the American Way of Life – or, perhaps more accurately, the way American’s live their lives.
No other sport can claim metaphorical significance the way baseball can. Two weeks ago, a meeting in Hollywood was begun with, "I hear we’re going to hit a long ball today; what’s the first pitch." (We’re not talking soccer field here.) Similar clichés are used every day in business: swing and a miss, real pitchers’ duel, he really dropped the ball, two down in the bottom of the ninth, knocked it out of the park, he went down swinging, he was clutch.
Other sports can claim clichés that have spilled into our lives (third and long; puts up a prayer; putting from the rough), but none is as descriptive and universal as baseball. Even our high school romances are explained using baseball; and although the obscure meaning of the bases changes from generation to generation, a home run will always remain the same, ultimate goal.
(I don’t know if the British have these same wonderfully descriptive clichés revolving around cricket (he hit three wickets in one night?), but I suppose it’s possible.)
While baseball is America because the American zeitgeist is baseball, there is one overlooked cliché that I believe should be more often used in a positive context.
Last weekend, the New York Times published an article about a pair of economists that published a book based on 800 years of economic data. "Their handiwork," says the Times, "is contained in their recent best seller, ‘This Time Is Different,’ a quantitative reconstruction of hundreds of historical episodes in which perfectly smart people made perfectly disastrous decisions."
The book and article extrapolate an interesting point – many of the disastrous decisions were between doing something and doing nothing. Most often, that something proves to be wrong. But, at times, the nothing is just as frowned upon, as in the still cooling case of Alan Greenspan.
When something is done, the approbation is hailed. But never is credit given to he who did nothing and was right in his decision.
That is of course with the exception of baseball. While basketball has "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take" and football has the "hail mary" pass, baseball has "good eye" and "good look" and "don’t go chasing balls in the dirt."
With all the other baseball clichés floating around our lives, it may be wise to incorporate the "good look" every once in a while and appreciate the times we said no to Paul Wolfowitz when he suggested we invade Iraq; no to Bernie Madoff when he told us he had can’t-miss investment opportunity; no to Lindsay Lohan when she said she was OK to drive us to In-n-Out at 3am. By the next Fourth of July, I hope we’ve incorporated some more good looks into our lives. There’s a lot we can learn from baseball yet.
Last weekend, I was given a Viagra by one of my former coaches who is about 70 years old and, even in his earlier years, appeared in serious need of help in the bedroom. I had made the assumption soon after arriving at school that he was getting some help downstairs and so I started asking him to hook me up, thinking it would make me into some sort of superman. After nearly 10 years of begging, he bestowed a single pill upon me, advising that I would only need a half and that really the impact for me, at my age, would be gaining the ability to rebound like a seven-footer with a 45-inch…um…vertical.
Overly excited that I had in my possession a video-gameish second life, I only managed to hold on to it for four days before I chomped down on half and headed to Lois Lane’s.
To set the scene, I had never slept with this LL before… And, actually, short of some drunken texts, I had no reason to think she would even be interested. So… Not sure if I believed that Viagra would also give me some pervasive powers of persuasion that previously lay unrealized, dormant but waiting in my hypothalamus… But it didn’t.
A sad ending, I know. However, beyond the pit in my stomach, I gathered a couple key take-aways that I’d like to impart at this time to any concerned or curious comers:
First, a word of advice to anyone who might find himself in this situation – use Viagra on a guaranteed, known, one hundred and however many percent sure thing. Don’t waste it on a girl who might not go all the way, could be boring in bed, or may be interested in something other than making it an all night eff-fest. If you know you only got two tries, do some recon without the heavy artillery.
Secondly, if you are like me, you will learn that, unfortunately, you are in that group that has an adverse reaction to Viagra.
Approximately two hours after downing the pill, I got out of her bed feeling really, really, extremely, uncomfortably, agonizingly, stupid hot and needing to pee something horrible. My bladder issues proved to be the lesser of my concerns as it turned out. I had barely made it through the doorway of the bathroom when the heat I had felt in bed reached nuclear meltdown levels. My knees went out, and so did my lights, as I hit the floor like a sack of potatoes. Potatoes hopped up on Viagra.
Not sure how long I was out, but once I pulled my head through the fog and took stock of things, I realized that I no longer had a bladder issue. But I did have soaked boxers… In the name of cleanliness, I crawled into the shower but, truth be told, I didn’t care about the kidney liquid, I really just needed to let the sweet cold water rain down on me like a thunderstorm on a prairie fire. A prairie fire with a mean hardon.
Eventually, my body worked things out for itself and I toweled off and climbed back into bed with Miss L-squared, who, as best I can tell, was never the wiser.
Thirdly, and I wish my coach had told me this as well, please remember that some things are better left to the imagination.