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Showing posts from January 16, 2005
"At some point, men's breasts became liberated and women's didn't," Johnsson said Friday. "This is the only thing left that men are legally allowed to do and, for women, they have to register as a sex offender. The real issue is there should be equal protection under the law." In California, a judge ruled that women caught sunbathing topless – a “crime” against the crime against nature which constitutes the indecency law – can be put on a public sexual offender list. The LA Times story centers on public defender Liana Johnsson, who has taken on the lonely task of representing common sense, beleaguered on one side by the overwhelming chorus of male giggles, drugged into the usual gap mouthed silliness by the very thought of tits, and on the other side by fundie repression, still witchhunting Eve – or Lilith. Johnsson is, of course, right to campaign for breast equality, as she calls it. Americans, who can see the prison in the burqua, have a hard ti
God, entrails, immorality and mermaids In Alberto Manguel’s small study of Bride of Frankenstein there is an account of the amusing impositions upon the drafts of the screenplay made by the then Hollywood capo of the Catholic League of Decency, Joseph Breen. The first Frankenstein had been directed by James Wale in 1931, before the Catholic League of Decency had gotten fairly started. The silent movie, the depression, and the era of the gangster hero closely overlapped. Hollywood had already been pressing against the various taboos against sneaking in shots of those sublimely dangerous portions of the woman’s body – and when it added to the mix a disrespect for authority and the thinly disguised joys of taking a tommy gun to the gendarmerie, the Catholic and Protestant hierarchy pitched up more than their usual pious stink. So by 1934, Hollywood honchos had agreed to let Joseph Breen judge if any release undermined the foundations of civilization, or showed too much tit. Various cen
In an experiment that would have certainly raised a hearty cheer on the Island of Laputa, a group of neuro-scientists took ten Republicans and ten Democrats and played them clips of Bush and Kerry last year. In the Independent, yesterday, one of the scientists, Joshua Freedman, summarized the results: “In the eight months before the election, I was part of a group of political professionals and scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, who used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to scan the brains of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. We measured brain activity while subjects looked at political ads and the candidates' images. While viewing their own candidate, both Democrats and Republicans showed activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area associated with strong instinctive feelings of emotional connection. Viewing the opposing candidate, however, activated the anterior cingulate cortex, which indicates cognitive and emotional conflict.
I believe that economics is indeed essential for the study of a market system, but that it is a snare and a delusion for the study of the social order that this system serves. – Robert Heilbroner When LI was in Malinalco, my friend, M., wanted to get some tomatoes and some underpants for her little boy. We walked around the cobbled streets. It was late afternoon. M. wanted to complete our task before the sun went down, because after dark, the pedestrian in Malinalco is prone to attack from the packs of dogs that suddenly seem to materialize out of the shadows. Residents have gates to shut after dark, so they can avoid unwanted canine intrusion. To get the underwear, we went to a few shops. None of them had the kind M. was looking for. To get the tomatoes, we didn’t go to a shop. We went to the market. Like every Mexican village, there are some streets in the center of town upon which, every day, venders pitch their stands. Some markets are elaborate, with vendors of Barbie dol
LI is feeling a little under the weather today. We do recommend the interview with Anatol Lieven over at Asiasource today. It seems to have occured while LI was in Mexico, but it is still strongly pertinent, especially given the news the Hersh article is making. Lieven has a theory about the crosscurrents of American nationalism which he unfolds in his recent book, and reproduces in the interview. The theory isn’t complicated – in American nationalism, the messianic democratizing gene is at odds with the messianic xenophobic gene – and he doesn’t question enough what ‘democratizing’ means – thus letting a word that, properly, should refer to a form of governance continue to hold its fatal submeaning, given to it through the cold war and into the Bush era, of a ‘free enterprise’ form of political economy. Here’s a coupla grafs: “But one of the striking and tragic things about the debate leading up to the Iraq war - although one can hardly call it a "debate" - wa
If you compare the defense of Darwinism in the nineteenth century, when it was a new and shaky venture, with the defenses mounted of it now, when it is a successful and chubby scientific paradigm, you find a strange thing: early Darwinists were much more radical critics of their opponents than today’s breed. Yes, scientists now will publish lists of common fallacies about evolution spread by creationists, or they will man the battlements to fight over this or that supposed gap in the evolutionary record. But they always play defense. We suspect this is because of a general feeling that hurting the religious sensibilities of people in a society where an appreciable percentage believe they have been abducted by aliens, while others are waiting for the rapture and the conversion of the Jews, is the better part of valor and funding opportunities. We say to hell with that. Perhaps, we have sometimes thought, it really would be a good thing to teach ID in school, subjecting it to the ro
The election, part 1 Last year, in February, we made a spotty analysis of Iraq’s situation and why Sistani’s call for an election was important. Surveyors of property consult previous plats to orient their plumb lines; purveyors of opinion should follow the same procedure. This, then, is what we wrote back then: “February 4, 2004: Summarizing the LI position, it would go something like this: Bush’s argument for war disguised an all to familiar American imperial adventure. As in Latin America, the administration was trying to take out a hostile dictator and replace him with a compliant puppet, under whose benevolent gaze the U.S. could spread its fine mesh of corporate interest, engulfing the resources and wealth of a conquered protectorate. What Iraq demonstrated is that intervention on this scale, and at this distance, is not going to happen. The Empire has limits. More, the unintended consequence of the intervention was the removal of a truly horrendous regime, and the o
This week, I listened to a little debate between a Court Liberal – he’d been freeze dried on the Washington Post op ed page in the Clinton years, and is regularly perked up to make concessions and hew to a “centrist’ position on NPR – and a conservative. The NPR commentator sometimes came in with incisive questions, such as: do you want cream with your coffee? Hey, I’m exaggerating! Anyway, the debate was about Social Security. The Court liberal didn’t say anything like, the President is lying through his ass. Such remarks get you kicked out of the Court. He did point out that the idea of Social Security going bankrupt in 2040 was at some, ahem, variance, ahem, from the real state of affairs. Then, having the eagerness to compromise that D.C. induces in establishment types, he muttered that the real reform should be done on Medicare. Real reform doesn’t mean – finding ways, in the wealthiest nation in history, to make sure that there is a minimum level of health care for every c