02
May
08

Blank Page No.5

We’ve the all-star line-up of Steve in the States and ZK in Singapore at the controls of this weekend’s Blank Page. Steve as moderator? Poacher turned game-keeper I’d say. I’m looking forward to it.


200 Responses to “Blank Page No.5”


  1. 1 ZK
    May 2, 2008 at 20:00

    Hi everyone. It’s a great pleasure to be allowed to moderate this weekend’s blank page.

    First off, just to keep it easy for everyone, let’s follow the standard set by the past few Blank Page hosts – when making a point a post or topic, please refer to the post author, or even better, link to their post. You can do this by right-clicking on the timestamp under the person’s name and selecting “copy link location”, before putting it in your post using HTML.

    A story suggestion from me to start us off this weekend, and Steve will chime in pretty shortly, to get us started:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7377852.stm
    X-Men 2 actor Alan Cumming, who is gay, has accused the media of portraying being homosexual as controversial, and says this is preventing fellow homosexual actors from coming out.

    Do you think he has a point? Do the media ! – or Hollywood – intentionally make examples out of gay – or any other minority – actors? Is this problem restricted to homosexuality, or is race, or religion (can you name me any Muslim Hollywood stars?) similarly affected? Does Hollywood need to do more to embrace minorities?

    Of course, feel free to suggest stories of your own. I look forward to a great Blank Page this weekend.

    Have fun!
    ZK

  2. 2 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 20:07

    I don’t see how people would base their life decisions on what the media does. If someone remains in the closet, it is because either they live in a society that wouldn’t take kindly to homosexuality (think th emiddle east) or because they choose to remain in the closet. I wouldn’t blame the media for your decision, especially when you work in the entertainment field. I mean, their job is to get attention.

    Omar Sharif is a muslim actor.

  3. 3 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 20:12

    Would anyone be further interested in discussing the Austria thing? The father, and why Austria seems to think Austria is somehow reflective of that crazy man, when he’s just one person, and it doesn’t seem to make sense that he would somehow reflect on Austria?

    Other topics, and everyone, please feel free to suggest things on your own, and discuss what you like:

    To save costs, and possibly help the environment, US airlines are flying at slower speeds. Do you think this should be extended to drivers also, as it would cut costs, cut emissions, but sometimes you just like to drive really fast, which I’ve been guilty of doing.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/05/02/flying.slower.ap/index.html

  4. 4 VictorK
    May 2, 2008 at 20:22

    @ Steve: I’m pretty sure that Omar Sharif is in fact a Coptic Christian.

  5. 5 Will Rhodes
    May 2, 2008 at 20:42

    This is going to be an interesting weekend! 😉

  6. 6 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 20:46

    Actually I’ve heard that Omar Sharif converted to Islam, but he was born a christian.

  7. 7 Nick in USA
    May 2, 2008 at 20:47

    Steve as a moderator? This could get ugly. Just kidding, I’m sure you will both do a great job.

    Anyways, about the topic at hand. I think Cummings has a point. The media works so hard to out gay people, and makes them controversial. For example, Ricky Martin. They are definitely looking for shock factor. On the other hand, there are a lot of homosexuals who use the opportunity of coming out of the closet as a big publicity stunt to further their own careers (Think, Anne Heche). It’s a two fold problem. I do feel bad for anyone who was outted by nosey media though.

    On a side note, I would really like to hear everyone’s opinion on what the rise of China means for the West. What steps can be taken by people and governments to insure that our quality of life doesn’t decrease drastically.

  8. May 2, 2008 at 21:20

    HELLO to my two Precious friends ZK and Steve and a very good luck to both of you guys with this very special mission during the weekend Inshallah ! :-). I was once talking online to a very good American friend of mine, and I was telling him that I sometimes think of going into the lab and inventing a guy that matches my criteria ! :-). So a question to all of you guys (men and women) : If I wanna invent my match, I’ll need to take some samples from particular very special men, mix those samples together, add salt, spices and milk with chocolates flavour to the formula, and then just see what I come up with ! :-). So here’s what I want from all of you guys, I want your suggestions. I want each one of you guys to nominate for me the very special men from whom I’d take samples. They should be alive, not necessarily celebrities, and their number shouldn’t be more than five ! :-). And each one of you guys must also clarify the criteria upon which you depended to nominate i.e. why do you think I should take a sample from that particular guy ?! :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  9. 9 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 2, 2008 at 22:05

    Hello Everybody,
    As a 66 year old homosexual I remember the problems I had when homosexuality was illegal in this country. It didn’t stop some of us “coming out” in certain situations. Being born this way was difficult for me as a child in the 1940s. I get upset by certain religions saying no-one is born homosexual. I suppose they have to protect their beliefs.

    As for media portrayal of homosexuals I’ve seen very touching ones. The Naked Civil Servant for instance. I was not forced to come out as I think everyone knew? My father was none too pleased but got used to it. My mother just accepted. The media of course is there to make money and |I suppose “sensation” sells. I am not sensational!

    I did have a long relationship with a married man, but wouldn’t consider it when he wanted to leave his wife for me. I was thinking of his 2 children whom I adored. I saw him again in passing many years later and he said the boys still asked after me, This I found very touching.

    I have lived alone most of my life as I am a very difficult person to live with. I am contented with my life. Perhaps those who do not come out have not accepted themselves? I find that a bit sad.

    Lubna I can give you some good free web sites if you want to see good looking men. You have to be broad minded though and not easily offended?

  10. May 2, 2008 at 22:47

    Does the media create stereotypes?

    Yes it like the rest of society the media needs to define behaviour it can’t understand by referring to steretypical examples.

    Can this be limiting?

    It depends on how much an individual chooses to accept the stereotype. The portions of the gay community have identified with the Camp stereotype, and choose to live that lifestyle. That does not mean that the whole of the gay community is famboyent and ‘gay’ (victorian definition when the word was first used meant that happy and open with emotion).

    The sterotype becomes limiting when a person accepts it without challenge. As a blond, if i accepted societies predjudice that Blonds are stupid my life would be limited.

    It would be interesting to have a discussion on gay and lesbian rights around the world. The Uk is fairly progressive with its recognition of civil ceremonies, but other countries are less so.

    Here is a contemporary topic:

    The Island of Lesbos has launched a civil suit against the Gay and Lesbian association of Greece since it claims that only people on the island of Lesbos should be allowed to call themselves lesbian. The term lesbian derives from the poetry of Sappho who wrote love poetry to both men and women. The islanders claim they are so embarrised by the use of the word lesbian that they have been forced to change their islands historic name. If they win the suit they will challenge other Lesbian groups for the right to use the word lesbian.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7376919.stm

    One question which immediately springs to mind is who has the right to language? The lesbian community does use the term lesbian with little shame, but do they have a right to do this. Especially considering Sappho ended up marrying a man and having children.

    Are we guilty of using classical terms without truely understanding their connitations?

    Back in 1996 in the Evans V romer case in colorado both parties argued about classical roman same sex desire as a case study for modern homosexual relationships, since it offered a period without church definitions or dogma.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romer_v._Evans

    Finally this coming summer is the Lambeth Conference, with the anglican church aiming to heal its supposide schism over homosexual relationships, and the ordination of an openly gay bishop in america.

    Can religion ever be reconciled with same sex desire? Should it be forced to be reconciled with same sex desire by the state (e.g legislation in the uk forces means that same sex couples can have a civil ceremony in church property despite widespread protest in the anglican community).http://www.lambethconference.org/index.cfm

    Well sorry if its a bit long, but after a fortnight of hard core history dissertation its nice to return to WHYS 🙂 But right now i am going to bed, feel free to dispute all my points 😀

  11. 11 selena
    May 2, 2008 at 22:48

    Steve and ZK, i hope we will make this a good weekend for you both.

    Peter, thank you for your post. It is good to get the view of someone who has felt the sting of rejection from people who have no understanding of what their hatred does to other humans.

    I grew up in a small rural community where such things “did not exist”. I had never heard of homosexuals when I went away to school. I live in residence and had my own room. There was, however a dormitory where several girls slept.

    One day I was looking for something and someone told me that I might find it in the dorm. The housekeeper gave me a key so that I could go there. When I unlocked the door, two girls were in a bed engaged in a sexual act.

    They were so engrossed in what they were doing, I don’t think they saw me. The strange thing was I didn’t not understand what was happening but I felt no negative feelings.

    I closed the door and never mentioned the incident. Much later I found out that if I had mentioned it, the girls would have been expelled.

    I sometimes wonder what I would have felt if I had been schooled to believe that what the girls were doing was wrong, or a sin or whatever.

    It is shameful what we teach children and I will be forever grateful that no one fed me any negative information about homosexuals. Or, if they did, I didn’t absorb it. 🙂

  12. May 2, 2008 at 22:48

    @ Lubna are girls also allow to choose 5 possibilities to add to your man mix? xx

  13. 13 Janet T
    May 2, 2008 at 23:01

    @Lubna- I would certainly nominate my husband-great sense of humor, has invested enough time to really “get me”, more than I do myself sometimes, likes sports just enough(go Ducks!)- gardens, washes pots and pans, is a fantastic parent- but he’s not overtly emotional (thank the Lord!)- I mean he does not cry! but will happily watch chick flicks- oh and he can fix almost anything. Is he perfect??- no, but I’m not either- but we are perfect together. 24 years married this month

  14. May 2, 2008 at 23:10

    Thanks a million Precious Peter for your comment ! It’s not only about the external appearance, although it does matter to a certain degree which is not that large by the way ! What really matters at the end of the day is the ‘inside content’ of the nominee i.e. his personality, moral and cultural content, attitude, ect., ect.,. He could be Nelson Mandella or the guy who lives next door to you ! Come on guys ! Help me out on this one : Who do you think I should take a specimen from inorder to invent with my match ?! And more importantly why ?! What are the criteria you’d depend on in your nomination ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  15. 15 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 2, 2008 at 23:17

    Hi Selena,
    Thanks for your very touching reply. Locally most of my friends are actually heterosexual. Many of them now grand parents. Their grand children do sometimes ask very seaching questions! Youngsters today it seems are far more knowlagable.

    Back to the media forgot to mention Brokeback Mountain. I cried buckets over that, much to the embaressment of others in the cinema. Jake Gylenhaal is not homosexual but if he was and I was younger WOW!

    Forgot to say earlier I cannot discuss the dreadful happenings in Austria it is just to upsetting. I have been saddened though by comments about The Austrian People. I don’t see why a whole country should be criticised for one dreadful man’s deeds. I would prefer to wait until the matter has been investigated and gone to court. It is up to the rest of you of course.

  16. May 2, 2008 at 23:17

    Yeah Hannah my love ! 🙂

  17. 17 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 23:29

    Hey Lubna:

    you should tell us your criteria so we would know what to pick out! Don’t know what your preferences are, but I hope they are reasonable! Where I live, the Washington, DC area, you’ll find no shortage of women regardless of what they have to offer, they feel entitled to a guy who is : over 6’3, makes over $300,000, and an English accent. There aren’t many men that fit that criteria here!

  18. 18 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 2, 2008 at 23:50

    Hi Lubna,
    On the computer it is possible to mix and match though I’m not very good at that. Taking the best “bits” of many men. Actually though as you infer it’s a man’s heart that is most important. Good looks don’t last forever as I know when I shave. A good heart can though. You can mix and match film star too, do you have any favourites.

  19. May 3, 2008 at 00:00

    Hey Precious Steve… I don’t wanna reveal all my cards and put them on the table infront of you guys, but I can tell you that money shouldn’t be a problem… I’m not rich, but I do have enough money :-). Janet my love, THANKS A MILLION to you ! :-). Your husband does sound like a supermarvellous nominee. I’ll surely put him on my list, but my match must be able to shed tears sometimes. However his other characters seem just perfect, and that’s why I’ll surely include him in my glorious invention :-). Bless you and him always, Amen ! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  20. May 3, 2008 at 01:52

    @ media and homosexals

    The homosexual issue will always be taboo amongst our species. Stating the obvious, humans are animals. As such, our sole purpose for being is to procreate and ensure that our genes are passed on. Strictly speaking from a biological perspective, homosexuality is a “dysfunction” of that very purpose. It is the reason why fathers are often more upset then mothers. It is also why gay men are more ridiculed and repulsive then lesbian women.

    Men play sports, fight, fart, and do all kinds of activities to demonstrate their dominance. This is how we “show our feathers” so to speak. Aggressive masculine activities are considered such because they are demonstration to females as to why we should be the ones to have our genes carried on. Women who do these activities are often ridiculed or at the very least ignored. (See the WNBA for further example.) Showing our strengths is process that we are groomed for from birth really. It explains why every father wants a boy.

    Men having sex with other men cause a primal confusion. “Why would a guy want to waste his virility on another man? He will never pass on his genes that way. What an insult to his father.” That is what the inner animal is saying the average person when they see two men engaged in gay conduct.

    Psychologically there is a questioning of dominance. A male animal is the dominant force in sexual activity. Seeing two men is confusing. Who is the dominant role? We don’t expect that dominance from females. So they are more accepted.

    Also a man violates his partner with his member and leave part of his body, his fluid, inside his partner. In reality sex is pretty gross when there are men involved. I wouldn’t do that to a woman if it wasn’t so dammed fun. Two women do not have that personal violation and fluid exchange. To the human psyche that is more acceptable. Also, all straight men dream of having multiple female partners. It increases their chances to pass their genes on.

    The media is a reflection of our purchasing dollar. Try as hard as you might, not one straight guy went to see “Broke Back Mountain.” If they did, they went with a woman they were trying to “stay up all night” with and they wanted to show their sensitive open-mindedness.

  21. May 3, 2008 at 02:03

    @ Lubna,

    Continuing with the animalist theme. Build a man that has the ability to restrain his inner animal. self discipline and social awareness are near the top of what you should be looking for. The ability to make you laugh and someone you can talk to are the two most important traits. Let’s face it, you are only going to get use of his body for about 13.5 seconds. After that, you are going to want somebody you can talk to. Eventually you expect to grow old with them. Imagine spending your life in a wheelchair next to a dumbass.

    You live in a dangerous culture for women, so you can’t take my advice. Otherwise I would tell you to go find a guy you think you like. Spend a year driving him crazy. Do whatever you can to piss him off. See him when he is sober, drunk, happy, sad, and every range of emotion. . For god’s sakes you have to see what it is like to live together. If you can accept what you see let him know. If he doesn’t loose his cool, shower him with everything you have to offer.

  22. 22 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 02:10

    Steve: I suspect most of the BBC Washington correspondents, if they’re not already taken, might fit in that category!

  23. 23 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 3, 2008 at 02:14

    Now on to more serious issues.

    In this time of food crisis, is it reasonable for there to be a grain cartel similar to OPEC. Thai Prime Minister Sumar Sundaravej has revived this long standing proposal.
    http://in.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idINIndia-33365320080502
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/01/business/worldbusiness/01cartel.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/01/business/cartel.php

    With rising food prices and increased food insecurity, does an institution such as WTO have the moral authority to impose rules for global trade or should countries be allowed to secure their own food deals in the face of possibilities such as “Food Cartels.”

  24. 24 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 02:24

    BBC correspondents make over $300k a year? If you are ever in Washington, DC, if you want to see something hilarious, walk by an Embassy when they are having a party. Women wait outside of the gates, hoping to get invited in… Funny stuff, especially at the Australian Embassy…

    @ Dwight

    What kind of advice is that? Telling her to drive someone crazy and piss him off? That’s already common enough, I don’t think that aspect of US culture does anyone good.

  25. 25 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 02:29

    has anyone seen the movie “Grizzly Man” about Timothy Treadwell? I’m watching it now as I have opted to stay in tonight given I had a rough night last night celebrating my birthday (living hurts right now) and am moderating this. Basically it’s about a guy who would spend summers in a wildlife reserve in Alaska, hanging out with Grizzly bears. He eventually got killed, but the movie shows basically a crazy man, basically hoping to become a bear. It’s mostly footage he took himself, though it’s in a documentary format, with other people being interviewed. I’m torn, he seemed rather stupid for being around a very dangerous animal, but you have to respect the bravery (or foolishness) and the ability to live in the wild for months. I”ll be lucky if I can go Kayaking for 5 or so hours this sunday!

  26. 26 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 3, 2008 at 02:30

    Hi Dwight in Cleveland,
    The dominant male in some monkey and ape species have sex with the “lesser” males to show their dominance, The lesser males accept this to stay in his favour knowing one day he will die and they will become “boss”. Going to bed now see you all Saturday.

  27. 27 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 02:36

    Steve: I couldn’t say for sure, but I’d suspect the big names like Justin Webb would earn quite a lot.

    Nick: I’m not quite sure what you mean when you say that “quality of life [will] decrease drastically” in relation to the rise of China. Would you mind clarifying that? Thanks.

    Will: Yes it is. Don’t worry, I won’t victimise you for being a Man Utd supporter. 🙂 Go Chelsea in the final, though. I’ll never bring myself to support your team, haha. 🙂

    Peter: Thanks for sharing. As Selena said, it’s good to get the view of someone in your situation. I’m actually quite surprised that you don’t seem to think there’s an overall problem with this in the media, indeed you gave an example of the media being sympathetic.

    However in my memory in recent times, it’s not been great. I remember there was a controversy regarding a certain Gray’s Anatomy cast member making a “fag” comment about a cast-mate…

  28. 28 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 08:01

    @ Dwight:

    Your comments about why homosexuality was frowned upon originally is probably true, I remember reading something similar in a novel that played in the Nazi society.
    BUT: nowadays we’re slowly facing overpopulation, especially in cities, which get more and more crowded, and the survival on the human species certainly does not depend on every singly human being to procreate. I believe that’s the reason why in general, at least in Western society, we have become more tolerant towards all kinds of life-style, including homosexuality. (What you wrote about not creating offspring can also be said about men or women who are straight but don’t want children.)

    When I lived in Toronto, I had one co-worker who looked as straight as a line, the prototype of the original “Canadian lumberjack”, having children. Was I surprised when I found out (he told me, our kids went to the same daycare) that he was not only gay, but married to his partner and the three children were with two different mothers, made through artificial insemination, custody sheared. I’m not sure whether the children might get ridiculed in school or not, but the Canadian society in general is so tolerant that this should not be too much of a problem. Luckily tdoay, at least in some countries, people can live exactly the way they want to live, as long as they don’t hurt anyone.

    As far as the media is concerned, I believe that they have done a lot to make homosexuality more accepted, but of course at the same time, when a cute guy with a lot of teenage-girl fans turns out to be gay, it’s still big news, just for news sake.

  29. 29 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 08:13

    @ Lubna:

    I like your post a lot! I’m married and happy with my husband, but I fear that hasn’t stopped me from thinking what the perfect guy should be like… The problem is, in the end he doesn’t exist, I would rather call him “the man that drives you the least crazy”! 😉

    The perfect guy should definitely respect you and your wishes. Now you’re at university, studying to become a pediatritian, so one big question you should ask yourself is this: “Do I want to work even when I have children?” If the answer is yes, then you need a man who will respect this and not try to keep you at home so that you can take care of the household and raise 17 children (just kidding).

    The next big item is humour: if he can’t laugh about himself, i would dump him faster than I can say “trash”, because he will just make your life miserable (I’ve seen it with my father).

    He also should be kind and able to express his emotions, personally I like kind eyes that look like he could never hurt you. (There, it’s out!)

    Looks themselves come and go, and if he’s rich but stingy then his money’s not worth the pain. One famous Austrian book describes the importance of looks as follows: “Any man prettier than a monkey is luxury!”

    In the end of the day of course you also have to look into the mirror and ask what you can bring into a relationship.

    Love (and good luck),
    Katharina

  30. 30 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 08:15

    Happy “World Press Freedom day”, everyone!

    http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=20

  31. May 3, 2008 at 08:23

    Good morning to both of you Precious ZK and Precious Steve… Very interesting thoughts regarding my glorious invention (THANKS A MILLION Precious Dwight !). As I’m reading the above blog posts, a question immediately jumped into my mind : Is it really fair to stereotype or to make a generalised judgement about a particular group of human beings (for instance women) in any possible way depending on what we see in our limited enviroment ?! As for e.g. to say that women do put money as a NO.1 priority when they want to choose their partners for life-time ?! And to Precious Peter in the UK I say : homosexuality is firmly forbidden in Islam, and I’m a proud practicing Muslim myself…. Islam’s stances from homosexuality do apply to me as a practicing Muslim, but surely do not apply to you because obviously you’re not Muslim, and that’s why I’m really soooooo glad that I got the chance to speak to you on OUR blog, the WHYS blog… Till now I have only one nominee, Precious Janet’s husband… Any others ?! :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  32. May 3, 2008 at 09:01

    Hi again to all of you my Precious friends…. As for stereotyping and making generalised judgements, I gave women only as an example, but I’m soooooo sure that we all can come up with other interesting examples, like Arabs, Muslims, ect., ect.,. When anyone of you guys wanna make a judgement about a particular group of human beings, what are the resources that you’ll depend on in making your judgement in a descending order ?! In today’s world, is every human being considered to be a representative of his/her culture, religion, race, or gender either in a good way or a bad way ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  33. 33 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 09:34

    Good morning, lovely Lubna! (Or is it already afternoon there?)

    You asked some very serious questions in your last post. How do we really make judgements???

    After giving this topic some consideration, I came up with this answer, speaking strictly for myself: If I meet some people that belong to a certain group (gays, Iranians, scientists; speaking of groups that I actually have experience with) and if there are certain similarities within the group in terms of their behaviour, than I can build a judgement based on my experiences, eg. most gays are very funny, most Iranians are nice people, most scientists are nerds who can’t talk about anything else). Note that I say “most”, because clearly there are exceptions to every rule (I’m sure, there are even homosexual Muslims out there).

    If, on the other hand, you try to make a judgement about a group that you don’t know first hand, eg. Eskimos, then you can only rely on hearsay and will most likely only build up prejudices, which usually have nothing to do with reality.

    I would not use one single person as a representative for his group, in science you need a sample size greater than 1 to get conclusive results.

    Love,
    Kathi

  34. May 3, 2008 at 10:17

    Kathi honey, THANKS A MILLION my love for your very valuable thoughts about the issue of stereotyping and making generalised judgements…. But does every human being actually represent him/herself only ?! Or in today’s world every human being is considered to be a representative of his/her culture, country, religion, race, gender, ect., ect.?! And BTW Kathi my love, I want nominees, so please give me one ! :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  35. May 3, 2008 at 10:31

    Hi Lubna,

    Prehaps Boris Johnson our new mayor of london might be a good character to add to your man mix! The reason i suggest him is not owing to his mad appearance, and an innate ability to ‘put his foot in it’ repeatedly.

    You come across as someone who is very interlectual and enjoys a good debate. As a result I think that a man of less intelligence than you would bore you very quickly. Not necessarily another medic, since you might find him too closely aligned to what you know, and then accidentally engage in competition with him.

    After working with Boris 5 years ago on a work experience, i remember spending most of my time in utter confusion, since his brain worked (at that time) alot faster than mine.

    My current Boyfriend has a first class engineering degree, and regularly confuses me with talk of science. I equally baffle him with history, it certainly keeps convesation interesting.

    On a phyiscal level, then might i suggest someone who is good at hugging. No offence to slimmer built men but i personally prefer someone who can give me a good squeeze 🙂

  36. May 3, 2008 at 10:33

    As to lubna’s question about judgement, i recognise that as human beings we initally judge a person on appearance. We can’t help it, we look at other people and within a few seconds have judged based on our stereotypes wether or not we will trust them.

    The fun comes from looking beyond that judgement and seeing the person beneath their appearance.

  37. 37 VictorK
    May 3, 2008 at 10:52

    Hannah: you wrote “Yes it like the rest of society the media needs to define behaviour it can’t understand by referring to steretypical examples.” Can’t stereotypes also be a reflection of behaviour that is understood, at least on a very basic level? Is there – outside of overt proapaganda – such a thing as a completely false stereoptype? I doubt it. Most stereotypes have some element of truth to them. We expect to find gays in the arts, for example, but are surprised if they turn up as sportsmen. A stereotype that plays out pretty accurately in the real world.

    Stereotypes are a kind of social knowledge, not always true and not to be relied on implicitly, but they can be a useful way of beginning to deal with or understand situations that we perhaps don’t have any direct experience of.

    As to the state forcing religion to come to terms with same sex desire: that would be a disaster. The freedom of individuals and of institutions like the church is too important to be sacrificed for this kind of progressive bigotry. The state has no business telling any religion what it should or shouldn’t believe; ban a religion if you must, but don’t attempt to re-write its doctrine. And if gays enjoy the right to civil unions why should they also need to be (forcibly) recognised by the church? Traditional marriage is, by definition, a union between a man and a woman. I don’t see how an institution that developed on the basis of sacralising male-female unions can be said to discriminate against gays. You might just as well argue that nature has discriminated against gays by making same sex couples – in the absence of artificial aids – infertile. No. That’s simply the way things are. There’s no need for anyone to be discontented with it, or for such discontent to be taken seriously.

    A discussion on gay rights across the world would be interesting and informative. They don’t really exist in many places outside of the West (which ought to teach some people to value the Western way of life, with its freedom and tolerance). I suspect that the WHYS moderators would be in overdrive for such a debate, though, since it’s likely to bring out the worst prejudices in people across the world. But even that would be informative.

  38. 38 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 10:57

    Dearest Lubna,

    You want examples???????????? Oh boy, if I had found the PERFECT man I would hide him, because every girl would want him for herself! (Just kidding, ofcourse.) My husband is a pretty good example (besides being a scientist 😉 ), he is funny and very kind and pretty patient… I won’t go into details about negative sides too much, there aren’t many and I knew about them BEFORE I married him – which is one important issue. Don’t hope that your boyfriend might change because you marry him, general experience (sample size >1) tells me that most men will not change to the better. Why should they, you already married him?

    Here’s someone I would never marry: Brad Pitt, I couldn’t even trust him to water my flowers…

  39. 39 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 11:01

    @ judgment:

    I think, at first contact every person only represents him/herself. As an example I will give Lubna herself: You address all other people as “lovely, precious” etc., which is rather rare in my region (but actually a very nice thing to do). Sofar this is an example of YOU, not of Iraqi people in general. If I met 10 other Iraqis and they talked in the same manner, than I would assume that that’s a common habit in Iraq. Sofar it’s only your habit.

    Love,
    beautiful and kind Kathi (haha!)

  40. May 3, 2008 at 11:50

    Can’t stereotypes also be a reflection of behaviour that is understood, at least on a very basic level?

    At a very basic level there is a grain of truth in some stereotypes. Referring to the blond v brunet sterotype i mentioned earlier, people associate blonds with barbie dolls. Despite having a wide variety of careers, barbie doesnt really come across as intelligence, so the sterotype occures by association.

    Within the media these sterotypes are taken to extremes, e.g the two recent child abuse scandals in austria have lead the press to discuss if austria has a look away society. They associate the actions of a minority of individuals with the whole of society.

    Is there – outside of overt proapaganda – such a thing as a completely false stereoptype?
    I think it becomes false when individuals let it hold sway on their perceptions of people. You mentioned how you don’t expect people who are gay to be sports people.
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080125034126AAiNMQ0

    http://www.kxsrfc.com/

    Prehaps this preconception of Gays must be invovled in the arts and don’t tend to be found in sports has something to do with the media acceptance of the stereotype. They have no hesitation in ‘outing’ gay thespians such as Ian McKellan because society expects gay men to be arty. But it would envoke a huge scandal if a mega movie star came out.

    You only need to look at the outrage surrounding the Annie Leborwitz photos of Miley Cyrus to see what happens in the media when an individual breaks sterotype.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/foreign/catherineelsworth/april08/whoistoblameformileycyrusphotos.htm

  41. May 3, 2008 at 12:24

    Hannah my love…. THANKS A MILLION honey for your really extraordinary nominee… Boris Johnson ??? OK, I’ll take my chances ! :-). And Kathi honey, you’ve raised a very interesting and at the same time very funny point in your post : They say that Iraqis do take 10 minutes just only to say hi ! :-). In Iraq we do use 2 words alot : Habibi (when you’re speaking to a male), and Habibti (when you’re speaking to a famale), both words mean my love in English. We also use other words alot like for e.g. Hayati (my life), Ya Ghali (O’ Precious). According to Iraqi traditions you’re allowed to use all those phrases with people of the same sex you belong to i.e. men to men and women to women. Iraqis usually use all of those phrases when they wanna address people they really love and care about i.e. good friends, relatives, family members, ect., ect. All WHYSayers are my Precious friends, and I do love them all soooooooo much… But according to Iraqi traditions I can’t address ZK as ‘ZK my love’ for e.g. But ‘Precious ZK’ in my opinion is the safest thing to say, at least from an Iraq perspective ! :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna

  42. 42 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 12:40

    I laughed out loud when I read the last bit your post, Lubna. You just made my day. 🙂

    We keep talking about homosexuality here (if that’s the way this conversation’s building up — which it is looking so — then I seriously think it looks like WHYS has got a pretty solid topic to discuss next week) but does it extend beyond that? Is it just sexual orientation?

    Why does Hollywood not “out” people based on their politics (I’m sure ‘outing’ a major star as, say, supporting the Palestinian cause would be quite controversial), while it’s willing to out people as gay?

    And an aside about Boris Johnson — I’m not a fan of Mr Wacko. Way too eccentric. Does anyone really want that kind of character to be the leader of the host city of the Olympics in 2012?

  43. 43 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 12:43

    Steve, regarding airplanes:

    I was listening to Radio Five Live online earlier this morning and I heard on Up All Night that BA’s flights between New York and London were now taking longer as BA’s asked their pilots to take their feet off the gas a little, so to speak. I’m personally not convinced about the environmental impacts. If anything it only helps BA save money on petrol and gas taxes.

  44. May 3, 2008 at 12:55

    I have lived in Boris’s constituency for a number of years. He has been a real asset to the area in his own way. In comparision to Ken he will be a great host mayor for the 2012 games 😀

    Does hollywood not out politicians? I mean in the uk the press is fairly on the ball when it comes to discussing individuals ‘bad habits’ , so why would the american press feel it shouldnt out a politician on the basis of their sexual orientation. Especially when u consider that large portions of america would class homosexuality as a ‘bad habit’.

    In the uk it is generally accepted, although there are still plenty of barriers gay men and women need to break through.

    Prehaps another topic for WHYS
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7381646.stm
    Cuba has lifted restrictions on individuals owning home computers, although it is still restricting the internet. China has also recieved alot of press attention recently, after it allowed the BBC website to become active in china, with restrictions of course.
    Q. Should a government controll access to free information? We at WHYS engage in online debate, but could our debate be viewed as harmful by the state? For example could the Iraq government take a negative view of Lubna’s invovlement with WHYS.

    @Lubna, i allways wondered why you used the term precious infront of individuals names, thanks for clearing it up. In the UK amoungst female friends we will sometimes refer to each other as hun. e.g Hi Hun, or Hi Hunnie. Similar to an abbreviated version of american slang. To refer to our partners in private we call each other love. But in public there really isn’t a prefix to add to peoples names to determine out emotional feeling towards them other than the simplistic my e.g my mother, my friend, my boyfriend. But we wouldnt address people as such, we would only refer to them in that way 😀

    Your Hun Hannahx

  45. 45 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 12:58

    I think people have to be careful about potentially “outing” people, especially on here, as it could potentially lead to legal problems, though it’s more difficult with celebrities and public people. When I was in law school, I learned that at least in New York, making a statement “x is homosexual” is defamation per se. Meaning that unlike an ordinary case of defamation, your damages (an element of a defamation case) are presumed, so you don’t actually have to prove any financial loss due to the reputation harm. So this brings up several issues, the law is basically saying you are damaged if someone calls you a homosexual. Then again, truth is a defense against a defamation suit. So should we have laws? Think about why we have them, if someone were to say someone is a pedophile, and they aren’t, there is a harm to that person’s reputation. Should we consider calling someone a homosexual (if it’s an untrue claim) is a harm to reputation, then there’s something in society that doesn’t view homosexuality kindly, correct?

  46. 46 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 13:00

    Hannah, I think you misunderstood me. I wasn’t very clear. I meant to ask, why does Hollywood not make a big deal of people’s politics (for example, if they support the war in Iraq, especially since so many big names are Democrats who are opposed to the war).

  47. 47 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 13:02

    @ ZK

    They say that the flights take between 2-10 minutes longer, but the official flight times will remain the same because they take the time out of the allotted times presuming delays, taxiing, and landing times. An example is taking a flight from DC to Philadelphia, they allot you an hour or so, but flight time is actually 20 minutes. If the flight became 3 minutes longer, nobody would notice it, but apparently it saves fuel, which saves the airlines money. Something tells me they wont pass on the savings to the customers, and will still be adding fuel surcharges. I would imagine if they did this on international flights it would add to the time. Imagine flying to Australia 10 mph slower. It still wouldn’t matter much, but probably would turn into 30 minutes.

  48. 48 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 13:08

    Does anyone think that gay pride parades actually harms the gay right movement? I mean, if we’re talking about stereotypes, then EVERY single stereotype comes into play with those. You’ve got drag queens, people dressed in rather freaky ways, it all basically come to being in your face, ostentatious, and very sexual. Do you think that’s a proper way to encourage gay marriage legalization? or whatever other things gays are looking for? I’ve often thought that these pride things are counterproductive.

  49. May 3, 2008 at 13:08

    Morning all, to start, a joke.

    A woman feeling her biological clock ticking answers an ad for a unique hotel. The hotel has 12 floors. It cost an up front $12,000 the woman is given a key to a room on each floor. In each room is a man. As the woman advances through the floors she is charged $1000. When she stops, she will be refunded the money for the floors she didn’t visit. Once she advances u a level she can not go back. There is a money back guarantee.

    So the woman proceeds to the 1st floor. She meets an overweight, unattractive, unemployed and poor man with bad hygiene. He seemed rude and uneducated. She quickly moved on. On the second floor she met a man who was more attractive then the last but was a heavy drinker and smoker he wasn’t very healthy looking at all. He too was unemployed, rather gruff, and not too well put together. She progresses on to the 6th floor. There she meets the average guy. He is average looking, with average intellect, had a job that he gets by on. This was the first one that interested the woman, but curiosity presses her on. On the 8th floor she meets a guy of above average looks, he had a decent job as some kind of sales man. He seemed accommodating and polite. Although she suspected it was kind of “fake”. He wasn’t extremely bright. She thought she might like this guy. But again, curiosity got the best of her. She finds herself in the room on the 11th floor. She enters the room to find a handsome, well dressed, polite, fit, young man. She engages in conversation where he has her laughing and debating inside of the first 20 min. During conversation she found that he was the owner of a multi-hundred million-dollar software company that he had grown himself from the ground up. She is enamoured. She can’t think what could be better then this guy. Her “wondering” eventually overwhelmed her. She left that guy on the 11th floor and road the elevator to the penthouse on the 12th floor. When the doors opened, the hotel owner stood there with her $12,000 in hand. He handed it back to her. “It is obvious that there is no man that can satisfy you. Here is your money back.” That hotel is no longer in business. They never once had a paying female customer.

  50. 50 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 13:13

    Quite the digression but it had me laughing. Helped lighten the mood a bit too. 🙂

  51. 51 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 13:38

    This is the best ever name for a ski resort!

    http://www.loser.at/

  52. May 3, 2008 at 14:20

    @Steve and Lubna,

    The problem is that most men and women are not “driving each other crazy” until after they are married. Too often we all act like princes and princesses until we are committed. Then the true colors come shining through. How many times have we heard “everything changes once you are married.” A relationship is a large emotional investment. you would not buy a car that you didn’t test drive first. You especially wouldn’t buy one if you know that it had never been tested on anything but optimum flat roads at low speeds and no curves. If you want to know if that guy has it in him to get violent or abusive in other ways, find out before you are married. I would think that you would want to know if the person that is going to father your children is going to have the patience required to raise them, how else are you going to find out. Or you can play the “courting game” and not know what you have bought until you get it home. The key is knowing how to turn it off once you are committed.

    @Peter,

    The question posed was, does the media portray homosexuals as “controversial”, and is that preventing fellow gay actors from “coming out.” I simply was explaining why that media would always make homosexuality feel awkward. I have no judgement of feelings about its morality status. There is a danger in using the “wild” animal world to justify our actions. You can find that there are animals that participate in every socially dysfunctional activity we condone or condemn. Anger, Jealousy, rage, Murder, incest, rape, and selfishness are all found naturally in nature.

    Heck, the Bonobo chimpanzee is considered to be the most peaceful society in the world. Their staple characteristic is that the females quell any aggressive behavior by having sex with both parties. Two males look like they are about to come to blows, instant orgy. Everybody is happy again and the party goes on. (This might actually work on a world level. Our most peaceful years were when the president was getting oral at work.) The point is we are supposed to be humans, evolved, and not act like monkeys.

    Having a goal is different then having a reality. A world where nobody passes judgment on issues that have no concern to them is the goal. The media reflects the reality. people pay money to see movies and TV shows that portray characters the viewers deem to be admirable.

    @Katharina

    As long as we keep acting like monkeys we will continue to grow our population until we choke ourselves. Nature had this strange problem. Along the food chain a predator to prey balance controls population and disease. If there are too many of a species, then its natural predator will also increase. The increased number of predators reduces the number of prey, eventually the reduced prey leads to less predators. However, at the top of the food chain, there are no predators. Humans only natural predator is other humans. Therefor an increase humans of one social/ cultural group inspires growth of humans in another group. Our other natural predator is the earth itself. Droughts, disease, wars, and changing conditions tend to slow our growth. However, much like if you leave a few cats in a house and keep them fed, they will breed until they are living on top of each other.

    The reason things are more tolerated these days is because we see it more often. Oddly because of he ease of access through the media and travel have made the world smaller. Many of our social abnormalities we have become desensitized to. Tolerant is not acceptable. Even in your story you didn’t know the guy was gay. He knew you were straight. Yet his situation never came up.

  53. 53 VictorK
    May 3, 2008 at 14:40

    @ Dwight: I think the male bonobo chimps are playing the females.

    Good point about comparisons with the animal world: most religions would smile at such arguments – they can be treated as virtual admissions of the inhumanity of the behaviour in question, since no religion thinks of man as being just another animal or regards any aspect of human conduct as being justified by examples taken from the animal kingdom.

  54. 54 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 14:42

    Good morning everyone!

    O.K. The perfect man?

    The perfect man is the one who is so much a part of you that he can be in your space and it feels as though he has become one with you. The perfect man is not about looks or money or sex, he is about comfort.

    Actually nothing else matters, to me. If you are not absolutely comfortable with someone then something is not quite right. When you have to be on your guard all the time, emotions eventually take a toll.

    Gay Parade?

    Steve, I have to agree with you (Cut the beam!). Homosexuality should be regarded as normal and there should be no need to call attention to it. By calling attention to their sexual orientation, Gays seem to be saying they are different, when they are not. They are really just like the rest of us.

    What do you say, Peter?

    And did someone have a birthday? When I skimmed through the posts, I thought I saw that ZK had a birthday and then I couldn’t find it again. If so, Happy, Happy Birthday!
    🙂

  55. 55 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 14:47

    That’d be Steve who had one. Mine’s not for months yet.

  56. 56 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 14:48

    @ Selena

    Well, I have to disagree, I think homosexuals are different. After all, they are attracted to people of the same sex, hence different. Not making any judgment call on it, but it is a difference. I agree that the pride parade things are more for just getting attention, even if it is negative attention, because it really does play on the stereotypes that many people have. I’ve always felt any kind of pride, be it in race, religion, sexual orientation, mostly comes out of insecurity.

    I had a birthday this past week. I am almost to the average life span of a Roman now 😦

  57. 57 Shirley
    May 3, 2008 at 14:48

    salam, Lubna:
    I would take Dennis Kucinich’s veganism and pacifism, combine it with Ayatullah Sistani’s incredible Islamic and mundane knowledge, and mix in a bunch of patience, humour, and other stuff from other available donors.

    Hi, Katharina:
    You make an interesting point about overpopulation. I have heard, actually, that planet earth could house several more millions (billions?) of people, and that our problem is wasting of the resources, rather than overpopulation. While I am not really sure that we could handle more people on this earth, I am positive that we misuse our resources. We trash this planet to make fuel for ourselves so that we can cast light, noise, and heat into empty spaces. We drop two to four people into homes 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, and then we air condition those houses. We breed more and more animals that graze perfectly fine lands to nothingness so that we can eat a bit of their flesh, when we could be using those same lands to make ever so much more food for our own selves; and then we throw some of that animal flesh away. Fuel is fine. Houses, are nice. Meat is delicious. However, the lack of moderation with which we fuel, house, and feed ourselves is simply unethical. And the amount of light and noise, combined with disproportionate use of our land and its resources, keeps sending signals to our people that there are too many people for the place in which we are living. Those signals can be converted into any of several outcomes: homosexuality, disease, cannibalism, etc. All of these effetively reduce the population.

  58. 58 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 14:52

    PS: This whole “perfect” man thing is a little fairy taleish?? There is no such thing as a perfect man, or a perfect woman either. Everyone has flaws, and if you seek out “perfection” in someone, you will never find it.

  59. 59 Shirley
    May 3, 2008 at 15:03

    Lubna, Hannah:
    Though I am an English-speaker, I like “hyati” and “habibti” the best. I’ve not heard “ghali” this side of the big water yet. I still don’t understand at all why unrelated men and women from Arabic cultures exchange those greetings, though. I’ve heard it happen, and between presumably religious people. I personally feel shy to refer to an unrelated man as “my dear” or “`ayni” (my eye) or any such endearment. It’s all “brother” and “sister” to me, with “habibti” and “hayati” for closer female friends. And inshallah (God willing) Lubna doesn’t mind being considered one of my friends.

  60. 60 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 15:28

    Steve, sorry about that! Then I wish YOU a belated very happy birthday. May you have a wonderful year ahead of you. 🙂

    Now how can I address your point about homosexuals? MMMM… I guess it all depends on what you mean by different.

    Humans are born homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual or neutral. So, in a sense we are all different from each other. But no one group is more different than the others, in my opinion.

    We are all humans. Any pretense to difference is usually religious in nature.

    As I see it, the negativity boils down to the value of humans to an ancient society. The most important thing for ancient religions was to grow faster than their opponents. People who didn’t procreate had to be shunned and regarded as less valuable. It stands to reason.

    In a time when we profess to value individual rights over numbers, should we cling to the old ways? Unless, of course, we still believe our own group matters more than human rights.

    In that scenario, Gays, too, would have to protect their group in any way possible.

  61. 61 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 15:39

    Lubna, Steve, ZK:

    I have a similar question about the perfect Man or Woman.

    If Planet Earth is coming to an end, and a space ship has been built to carry 10,000 people (or any number a self-contained spacecraft can take) to another planet, to start another human world.

    You are on the selection committee. What criteria would you use for selection? Is it about perfectness, or some other qualities?

  62. May 3, 2008 at 15:40

    Hello again guys… Hey Precious Steve, and a very special Happy Birthday to you from Baghdad ! :-). I totally agree with you that everybody has flaws, and that everybody makes mistakes… But there’re flaws that are tolerable, and flaws that are totally intolerable… Who makes the criteria ?! Who decides which flaw is tolerable and which flaw is intolerable ?! And define ‘flaw’ for me please ! What’s a flaw to someone is a merit to another one right ?! As for me, I believe that a man who’s unable to cry on certain occasions is flawed, while I’m totally sure that so many other Precious WHYSayers would disagree with me strongly on this point. And so that’s why I really was interested in knowing the criteria of each one of you guys of how a perfect (or presumably perfect) guy should be like. And are those criteria affected by culture, religion, race, origin, ect., ect. ?! Or are there any universal criteria that women all around the world would all agree on ?! Hannah my love, in Iraq we do have a very wise saying “If you’re afraid of saying something, don’t you say it, and if you decide to say something, don’t you be afraid of saying it !!!”. Very difficult balance right ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  63. 63 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 3, 2008 at 15:51

    Hey Gang!

    I see there are new people at the controls this week! All the best, guys!…Steve, as Editor? Wow! We will all get screened out!…Just joking!

    But, seriously, the media live for stereotypes! It is easier to understand reality in convenient, bite sized portions rather than as a the complex truths of our beings. That has almost always been a standard. As for homosexuality in the media, well, all I can say is there is still very much a heterosexual bias about how we see the world, though that is changing in recent times.

    The reality is that many people still do not understand difference. Indeed, I think that that goes beyond sexuality to include every other aspect of identity, as well. If you are different people perhaps feel that they have to treat you “differently”, which is often just an excuse for media industries to work out their own fears about that difference through their various narratives and lenses which claim to represent the world as is. So, it is completely understandable, though not altogether acceptable, that there would be a sense in which to be homosexual by the standards of most Western media, Hollywood included, there are some amount of fear and reticence, probably even ignorance on the part of those who report these realities.

    I think that in most situations there have to be a way in which we try and respect other peoples’ wishes in terms of how they are represented in the public domain. Of course, I say this last bit, as I was recently interviewed by a foreign newspaper who asked me to comment on an issue and when I responded they proceeded to represent me contrary to what I had agreed. Indeed, from the outset I made it known why it was that I was speaking and in what capactity, however, that seems to have been completely disregarded by the reporter, who in his own efforts to “get the story” included things in the report which I did not agree to. As I explained to them, if I had known this was the case then I would not have agreed to speak with them, at all, thereby underlining what I percieve to be the real issue – the media often have their own agendas and will ride rough shod over your own interests, in the pursuit of those objectives…Just a thought!

    In terms of sexuality, that is just one more reason for the media to engage in this type of misrepresentation of reality. Sad but true!

  64. 64 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 16:02

    ZK, right clicking on the time stamp does nothing for me.

  65. 65 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 16:02

    Lubna,

    For me, there is no perfect man because the person who is judging, me, changes and so is the criteria for judgment. Standards of perfection before marriage and after marriages also change. Things become more complicated when a relationship takes on extended social responsibilites to meet social expectations.

    Perfection is an illusion, a wish, just like the love that one wishes to feel from someone, or wanting to give. In positive mood, there is unconditional love; in negative mood, love is given with a price tag (e.g., more intense reciprocal love).

    There are only better men, more suitable men and men who are humble enough to learn new things.

  66. 66 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 16:08

    Lubna,

    My heart goes out to Iraq. I say once more, “What is wrong with the world?”

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/080503/world/iraq_unrest_us_sadrcity

  67. 67 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 16:08

    Selena: it might be due to your browser. It’s not a really big deal, you can always just address the other person using their name alone. 🙂

  68. 68 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 16:26

    @ Dwight:

    The guy in my story wasn’t hiding the fact that he was gay, he rather 1) assumed that I knew because in general he was quite open about it and 2) he didn’t rub it in.

    @ Jade:

    You want to ruin ANOTHER planet? I agree with the other posters that humanity grossly missuses Earth’s resources and is very unwilling to learn. It starts with little things like not switching your car’s engine off when you have to wait for 5 minutes or really switching off the TV instead of putting it on standby, and it ends with destroying Antarctica to get the last hidden resources there, catching the last fish from the sea and so on, the list is endless. I would not send one single human to another planet, because we have not learned to live on this one responsibly.

    BTW: Has anyone seen Xie-Ming yet? It’s so peacefull on the blog 🙂

  69. 69 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 16:29

    I suppose it helps that we’re not discussing his pet subject, the MidEast.

    Back to talking about homosexuality then… LOL

  70. 70 viola anderson
    May 3, 2008 at 16:39

    I heard something on Charlie Rose last night that I found intriguing. Megan O’Sullivan, who used to be part of the Bush team in the first few years of this century said that what a lot of people don’t understand is that in the Middle East the U.S.A. is considered omnipotent (the exact word she used).

    As a result, the view is that the United States can fix anything if it chooses to do so, that a nation that can put a man on the moon should be able to fix the Middle East/Palestinian/Israeli issue.

    It shocks me to the core to think that a nation should be considered omnipotent by anyone, regardless of how much power it has. I always thought that term could refer only to deities.

    That kind of belief, if true, has many ramifications.

  71. 71 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 3, 2008 at 16:41

    Hi everybody,
    I’m rather overwhelmed by all your comments but give you all a collective “Thanks”.

    The media. I do feel overall the media is quite sensitive in it’s portrayal of homosexuals in The Western World. Cannot comment on “elsewhere” as I do not know. I do feel it is wrong if the media reveals someone as being homosexual. They may have been “in the closet” for family and/or religious reasons. It could cause a lot of heartache.

    Religion. I claim to have been born homosexual. It’s all I’ve ever known. Do you all believe me? Also if a person is born homosexual into a religion in which it is banned what do they do? Being forced into marriage and live a lie isn’t much of a life for either partner? I am an atheist partly because of my homosexuality. I was born into The Roman Catholic Church but have had that officially revoked by The Archbishop’s Office at my request.

    Perfect Man. No such thing. It is our flaws that make us interesting. I know someone locally who is very slightly cross eyed. To me it makes him soooo attractive. He is heterosexual, married, knows my feelings, but knows also I would never touch him. His wife is lovely too.

    Finally for the moment.

    Lovely Lubna it is so wonderful to hear your comments as a practising Muslim.

  72. 72 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 16:50

    Katharina in Ghent,

    Two things in my mind:

    1. How to practice democracy if it’s indeed BOTTOM-UP? How about: survey to get the guidelines & description of the kind of environment (summary of natural, social, political…) people want to live in, then appoint leaders to make that happen, to manage that environment.

    2. I read on this blog how the presidential candidates are qualified or not qualified as economist, scientist, socio scientist, medical doctor, peace maker, military general, and so on. BUT, most of the presidential candidates (look back on history and across nations) are lawyers, who probably won’t be needed on a new planet to start another human civilization. WHY? Does it mean the QUALIFIED people are not interested in one of the most powerful job on Earth, at least for now? Or is it just a political game to manipulate people into voting every 4 years?

    I am puzzled.

  73. 73 viola anderson
    May 3, 2008 at 17:03

    I think the best moviemakers investigate homosexuality as a human condition and what that means in that context. The best ones always show homosexuals as human beings first and sexually deviant from the norm (heterosexuality) second. The figure of the homosexual male has been used for centuries as a comic figure. It still is.

    In some respects the “swishy” homosexual holds up a mirror to women showing some women’s more obnoxious traits. They also portray in some characters some perceived positive traits of women. Sometimes I think that the portrayal of homosexuals in movies and plays is about males attempting to understand the female psyche, that they find it impossible to comprehend what they suspect are aliens in any other way. In my opinion, the portrayal of female deviants from the sexual norm has not been as rich.

    I stopped being shocked by homosexuality a long time ago. I know it isn’t popular to say so, but I suspect that the old saw about homosexuality being grounded in self-hate may have a good deal of truth to it, though it certainly is not the final word on the subject.

    My favorite portrayal of homosexuality as comedy was Richard Dreyfuss in “The Goodbye Girl” where he played an actor playing a hunchbacked gay king in a Shakespeare play. Very funny.

  74. 74 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 17:18

    @ Jade

    On the selection committee? I think to be honest, for the sake of survival, we would have to weed out mental illness. All it takes is for one person to go crazy, puncture a hole in the hull,and everyone dies. We would need serious mental evaluations, even better than what NASA does (crazy astronaut, wearing diapers, trying to kidnap another woman)…

  75. 75 ZK
    May 3, 2008 at 17:19

    Thanks for all the discussion today — keep it going. I’m heading to bed now, I’ll catch up with the overnight chat in the morning.

    Cheers
    ZK

  76. 76 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 17:23

    Democracy is a game in which the most vicious win. That’s it!

    When I first started working as a volunteer, I found that the stated goals of the various groups were secondary to the ambitions of the members. Very little got done because so much time was spent on wresting control away from this one or that one.

    Initially the fact that the goals were merely on paper was shocking to me. It didn’t take me long to realize that the life we have created for ourselves is all about winners and losers, no matter what anyone says. Goals are a myth!

    I didn’t want any part of that so, I decided to start my own group and picked the people I wanted to work with me. It was not democratic. There were no elections and some people were shocked when I didn’t follow the usual way to attract and retain members.

    That didn’t really bother me because it didn’t matter to me one way or the other. And it mattered less to the members. The group was highly successful and got many things done that otherwise would not have been possible.

    People are now coming to me asking what I did to make the group successful. They really don’t believe me when I say I did nothing except let people make their own decisions and get on with it.

    Last week someone said to me, “I have always thought you belonged in politics.” I couldn’t help but laugh at that for it is the last place I could ever have belonged. 🙂

    Thanks ZK. my browser is Firefox.

  77. 77 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 17:29

    Viola says “I know it isn’t popular to say so, but I suspect that the old saw about homosexuality being grounded in self-hate may have a good deal of truth to it.”

    LOL you may not be shocked by homosexuality but I am shocked by your statement.

    Could you please explain how you arrived at that conclusion? 🙂

  78. 78 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 17:36

    I’m confused by that statement to, I don’t think homosexuality is grounded in self hate, but I think many homosexuals do have a lot of self hate, probably due their homosexuality. I know of one case of a guy who actually basically thinks he chose to be gay, as he had a horrific experience with his ex wife, and I think he swore off women, but I still don’t know if I believe that argument.

    Examples of self hating homosexuals, look to the republican party. Senator Larry Craig is a good example. That Colorado Pastor who was saying a gay prostitute? I forget his name, but that was pretty big news not too long ago… All this speaking out against gays, etc, and turns out he’s gay himself.. It provides a good cover, if you’re gay, you don’t want people to know, be anti gay.. Just don’t get caught in an airport bathroom….

    If you use the google, and you look up homophobia, there will be lots of sites questioning whether homophobia tends to be self-hatred, people in denial or trying to hide, so they actively engage in homophobic behaviors. But I don’t think self hatred causes it.

    And I don’t think anyone is born straight or gay, I think everyone is born asexual, and the normal process is to become heterosexual as you hit puberty.

  79. 79 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 3, 2008 at 17:39

    Right @ Selena:

    I am curious, myself! Please explain, Viola.

    Thanks.

  80. 80 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 17:46

    @ Steve,

    So, first criterion: we want people who can endure pressure, considering what a cramped space with many strangers can do to one person. It has been known that rats commit mass suicide when the population reaches a certain density, and queen bees start new colonies when the hive reaches the full capacity.

    The recent school shootings show us mental illnesses can be hard to detect. Therefore, I would add to the selected list: clinical psychologists who can facilitate and monitor the general mental health of the passengers.

  81. May 3, 2008 at 17:59

    Hello again guys… And hi Precious Steve and Precious ZK… Thanks a million to you Selena my love for raising the issue of what has been happening in Al Sadr city in Baghdad for a month now… 3 million human beings, so poor, so miserable, and continueously being crashed and ignored all over the years by the successive Iraqi government… Hunger, oppression, helplessness, hopelessness, massive unemployment, isolation, ect., ect.,. All sorts of human misery and suffering that you guys can imagine, plus active militancy, plus strict and total siege for over month, plus continueous daily American air raids that almost always hit indiscriminately and cause so many civilian casualties (so far 400). The declared goal of the continueous American-Iraqi military operation in Al Sadr city is to tackle Al Mehdi Army militia… Well, but how about other active militias ?! Why keep ignoring them completely and focusing only on tackling Al Mehdi army militia ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  82. 82 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 18:28

    Because we already had one joke:

    Two planets meet in the universe. One planet asks the other how he’s doing. “Bad”, he says, “I’ve homo sapiens.” “Don’t worry”, says the other, “that will pass.”

    @ Jade:

    Who you really would want on that spaceship is actually the working class, people who know how to build a house, grow food, make tools, that kind of stuff, doctors. The last people you want are lawyers or politicians because they mainly live of other peoples work and/or misery without actually contributing to society, at least in a small group.

    Why do they not want to become politicians? Probably, because they never learned to manipulate other people on a large scale, and (at least most of them) take an honest interest in their work, trying to do a good job.

    I believe that if you choose to go into politics, then you have to disconnect yourself from anything you ever did before, because you have to be able to talk about anything and everything, and you become a “jack of all trades, master of none.”

    Love,
    Habibti Kathi

  83. 83 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 18:41

    I think Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove had it right… He thought about what a mine shaft would need, so the same thing could happen with a spaceship. You might think we don’t need lawyers, but lawyers keep society civil, without them, people would resort to gunfights to settle dispute. a gunfight ona space ship would be bad news…

    Of course we would need builders, architects, doctors, and what Dr. Strangelove suggested. hehe.

  84. 84 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 19:10

    The only thing you really need is people who can provide food and shelter and clothing.

    If people worked together there would be no need for doctors, scientists and lawyers (that’s you and me left behind Steve) because everyone would be emotionally healthy and there would be no civil disputes.

    Of course, before they went you would have to indoctrinate them into a new religion that says God will get the first one that steps out of line.
    😉

  85. 85 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 19:16

    @ Selena:

    That’s a too rosy picture you take of humanity. People have never been at peace with each other. even if it’s not violent, people still have conflict. Look at office politics. And yes, doctors would be absolutely necessary. You can die if you dont have your appendix taken out. Scientists would be needed to develop cures to new problems that would arise. I admit lawyers are the least practical, but I’m also strong and know how to do a lot of things. But if a new society were to one day be formed, it would need laws and lawyers to help people to solve their problems without killing each other.

  86. 86 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 19:23

    @ steve,

    Assuming we have lawyers on the spacecraft, the practice of Law need law reinforcers to work. Then we would also need policemen and prisons. The spacecraft must be re-designed. Prisoners could work on farms. That may help them change their violent ways. Work therapy.

    The spacecraft probably prohibits guns in personal baggage. But, resourceful people will no doubt create their own weapons. To borrow form media: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

    Actually, Laws are man-made. Rules of Law evolve, new laws are added to deal with new inventions, etc. In tribal communities, elders keep people in line to observe good social behaviors. Historically in some societies, moral values, religion and law are one. If one does harmful things, he/she answers to God. I mean, Law functions in many forms. If people’s behaviors are grounded in intelligence, moral values and social responsibilities, lawyers can change their job description.

  87. May 3, 2008 at 20:11

    All over the news is the 18-cent gas holiday proposed by candidates. Is there anybody out there who actually thinks that this is a worthwhile idea?

    Also some friends and I were discussing this a few months back. Would it be better to live under a democracy where the majority rules kept electing a ruthless ass as their leader, or a dictatorship where the leader has good intentions who had improved the economy, expanded education, and enabled policies that nearly everybody agreed with?

    The quote of that night was “Hell is probably a pure democracy. However, Heaven is definitely a dictatorship by design.”

    Honestly, I am not certain. I think I prefer freedom at all costs. It is more about controlling my own destiny.

  88. 88 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 20:27

    @ jade and steve:

    You are right when you say that in some societies religion and law are one, it certainly used to be that way in Judaism and Christianity. I still think though that if you have a rather small group of people, you only need a rabbi or someone like that to decide over disputes. The reason why we need lawyers today is because we are so many and there are so many confusing laws, and is some cases there is no easy telling from right and wrong.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dr. Strangelove, but it sounds like an interesting movie. Do you know the one where Peter Sellers plays the rather dumb gardener who happens to go into politics, never realising that he’s NOT talking about gardening? I forget the name of the film, but it was really great.

    I think we should have comedians on the spaceship, so that we have at least something to laugh about. (Or a lawyer who doesn’t know how to use a hammer…)

  89. 89 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 20:46

    @ Katharina

    The movie you are thinking of is called “Being There”. You’ve must have seen Dr. Strangelove, it’s got to be one of the most famous movies of all time. You’ve at least seen images from it, like:

  90. 90 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 20:47

    Quite right Jade! Laws are man made. Laws are made to deal with restrictions conjured up by man.

    Steve, I paint a rosy picture because no matter how much violence I see, I am an optimist. The day we realize that each and every one of us is but a mere human that is the day change will begin.

    No one really wants to be engaged in conflict. Everyone wants to be understood and loved.

    So, when we are fighting our neighbors, why don’t we realize that? Why don’t we look in our neighbors eyes and see ourselves?

  91. 91 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 21:23

    Isn’t it amazing the things we don’t know?

    http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200805.grayson.loszetas.html

  92. 92 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 21:26

    Iraq PM criticized by Sadr City crowds…

    Can we talk more about this, guys?

    http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iP8_u-US4vfLAM_AlUaJc8b9M1oQ

  93. 93 Katharina in Ghent
    May 3, 2008 at 21:47

    @ Selena:

    Where’s Xie-Min when you need her? I’m sure Lubna will be up soon.

    Good night,
    Kathi

  94. 94 Will Rhodes
    May 3, 2008 at 21:54

    Will: Yes it is. Don’t worry, I won’t victimise you for being a Man Utd supporter. 🙂 Go Chelsea in the final, though. I’ll never bring myself to support your team, haha. 🙂

    One win away from retaining the Premiership!! 😀

    But this leads to a question that people may or may not want to ponder.

    In the English football (Soccer) premiership two team are in the top five richest sports teams in the world, Chelsea and Manchester United. These two teams are also playing in the European Cup final (Champions League) which is played throughout Europe with every country being involved.

    Now on to the ponderence:

    As these two teams are rich, and I mean vastly wealthy, should lesser wealthy clubs be seeded higher in the game to give them help in possibly reaching a cup final or winning a championship? Should world sports events take into account the poorer nations when competing to give them an edge or should it all stay as it is now?

  95. May 3, 2008 at 21:54

    Grand theft Auto. gona be a big story this week. anybody see it or play it yet?

  96. 96 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 22:01

    Not a big fan of video games, Dwight, but I have seen some TV shows about it. It looks neat, but not enough to get me to go out and get an Xbox..

  97. 97 selena
    May 3, 2008 at 22:16

    Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, is there anyone on Second Life?

  98. 98 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 22:54

    I’ve been cooped up all day today, moderating, and watching this show in public TV, it’s really great, about life on an aircraft carrier. It’s kind of like watching a show about Prisoner, but you see their duties, their problems (lots of the guys are worried about their wives/girlfriends cheating while they are 6 month deployments), their future plans, their beliefs, etc… However tomorrow I plan on going on a long bike ride. I will have my pda phone with me so I should be able to moderate when I take breaks, but I should be gone for a long time tomorrow (praying for good weather tomorrow)…

    http://www.pbs.org/weta/carrier/

  99. 99 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 23:03

    @ Habibti Kathi,

    Sorry I missed you. I took a nap.

    To continue, it seems there are more lawyer jokes than ethnic jokes in US. There are also more lawyers here than in many other countries. Can’t think why. And, when lawyer combined with a politician, they get really exciting with words and arguments.

    In practical sense, I can think of a reason why many politicians started off as lawyers. Politicians will make many enemies. Knowledge of law can protect them, professional network can provide intelligence.

  100. 100 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 23:10

    @ Jade, where I live, everyone and their mother is a lawyer… There are many lawyer jokes, the typical one is:

    What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

    A good start.

    There are others, but they involve bad language that the BBC people probably wouldn’t appreciate me writing, but are funnier.

  101. 101 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 23:19

    @ steve,

    There was an old movie with Anthony Quinn who played a farmer and got onto a train by accident, used by a politician or revolutionist in his war. Quinn played a part in major historical events without being aware of his role. In the end, all he could say was something like “it was an exciting train journey and it was free.” The people around were scared, running like rabbits. He was like Forest Gump.

    Sometimes I think simple people are happier.

  102. 102 jade
    May 3, 2008 at 23:50

    @ Selena,

    My scenario of starting a new colony is a metaphor for a group of interdependent people to start anew without the burden of history. Many wars are still going on because of the past. My selection criteria list would include not just professionals and workers who produce tangible products & services but also people with special talents, skills and qualities. For examples: artists, musicians and writers who show us the beauty of the environment, remind us of our humanity; conflict negotiators, educators, etc.

    @ Steve,

    How do you moderate? Do you receive the draft and click “approve” button?

  103. 103 steve
    May 3, 2008 at 23:53

    @ Jade

    I log into wordpress and it presents all of the new posts. I read them, then approve them if appropriate. There has been nothing that I have rejected.

  104. 104 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 00:10

    @ Dwight,

    Freedom at all costs? The question I hear these days is security vs. freedom. And, whether there is such a thing called “absolute freedom without responsibilities”.

    Some women get married, gives up her freedom to have someone take care of her. This may not be all true in US but it’s still true in many other countries. Women who remain single are free but take care of themselves. There is a price.

    Democracy such as ours has a built-in mechanism for checks and balances. Electing leaders is about developing a big group of high quality candidates, like choosing the best of the bests for the Olympics, so that THE leader is actively chosen, not by default because there are not enough to choose from.

  105. 105 viola anderson
    May 4, 2008 at 00:21

    I must have read it in one of those endless pop psychiatry articles we’re always being subjected to. I will add that self-love, which is the opposite of self-hate, can’t happen without self-acceptance. What can be less accepting than to reject your maleness or your femaleness? So maybe self-hate is too strong a language.

    I’m not so dense that I’m unaware of the effect of hormones, the presence or absence of, on the libido and that if these are skewed because of some physical difference, the result will be a skewed sexual identity.

    That doesn’t mean I think homosexuals are incomplete or defective or immoral. They’re human beings, the same as I am a human being or, to to use the language of religion , a creation of God and valued as highly as God’s other creations.

  106. 106 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 00:53

    Does anyone listen to Prairie Home Companion? I think I’ve seen the Listen Again link on BBC world.

  107. 107 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 01:13

    @ Viola,

    I have friends who told me openly that they were born gay. I did not believe because I studied Biology. I do not see why anotomy does not follow function. I am an atheist.

    However, these are sensitive, intelligent people who have courage to live life to the fullest in a society that does not ostracize them. Many creative artists and designers are gay, so are writers and actors. They are in a profession that embrace self-expression. How about people in professions that do not need to expose their emotions?

    I think there are traits of “masculinity” and “feminility” in each of us. A pure man or woman can be boring & unreal, like absolute good hero and absolute bad villain in cartoons. Also, platonic relationships are tolerated between men, between women, between unlikely partners with big age differences, as long as no sex is involved. So, it’s not the love that people object, but the sex?

  108. 108 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 01:42

    Hello Everybody It’s me again,
    I’ve been down my local pub and had a few pints of Irish Stout. Sorry but have not worked out the “right click thing” but then my post is general.

    Viola Anderson I find your answer very interesting. Are you saying I am a creation of God? I was aware of my homosexuality when I was very young, about 4 years old. Religion would not be too pleased by that.

    Spaceship occupants. When The British Government goes on holiday nobody notices. If office and hospital cleaners, refuse collectors, builders, bus drivers, etc. went on strike the country would come to a standstill. The low paid workers are the ones who keep the country running but are the one who are treated as second class citizens. Put them on the spaceship!

    Selena. I was talking to “locals” in my pub tonight. A young lady said she never votes which upset me I asked her why. She said everything in The UK is controlled from Brusselles why bother! I tend to agree but I still vote. How do the rest of you feel about The European Union? I feel it is a load of unelected faceless bureaucrats who are slowly taking my country away from me and like a cancer I can do nothing about it?

    Finally in the pub I did raise my glass to “World Have Your Say” and wished you all the best! Locals did raise their eyebrows. Good to be in contact with such lovely people.

  109. May 4, 2008 at 02:23

    Will, I really can’t see how it’d be fair. A good quote on a similar subject came from Australian Formula One racing star Mark Webber: “Tiger Woods doesn’t have to tee off 300 yards further back just because he’s playing better.” Giving weaker teams/nations an edge takes away any sporting integrity.

  110. 110 Shirley
    May 4, 2008 at 02:51

    Hello, all:
    I think that it is amazing that the conversation began with homosexuality & the media and the perfect man and ended up with the perfect spaceship society. It means that the Blank Page really is working. Congrats to WHYS and to us all.

    Lubna, salam:
    I am so behind the times. Can you drop some names of other militias and political parties or religious personalities with which they are associated? Thank you.

    Dwight:
    Temporarily eliminating the gas tax is like tamping a lacerated corotid with a bandage. The way that we interact with engergy needs a complete overhaul. The concept of the corporation needs to be re-done entirely. We need to re-examine the meaning of monopoly and how to prevent it, and the ties between corporations and politicians.

    That leads us to the democracy versus dictatorship question. The problem is not democracy. The problem is the miscarriage (abortion?) of democracy. Ideally, a democracy would place the power of choice in the hands of individual people. Here in the U.S. today, the people do not have a real choice. The two major political parties have become so elitest in terms of how candidates are funded and selected for our own perusal. They have also become exclusionist by means of tools such as campaign funding and media control, so any party other than Democratic of Republican has no chance of survival. I find it sickening to see how the media tears to shreds anyone who does not stay within the Democratic-Republican party norm. The candidate who swings too far left or too far right; or the one who does not fit cleanly into one party or the other, is debased and insulted t the point where no reasonable viewer finds that candidate trsutworthy.

    One man does not have one vote. A person casts his vote. It is added with the votes of others. Those votes are reduced to a fraction or percentage. The fractions are weighed against each other to determine how many delegates or electoral college points a candidate has earned. In many cases, candidates who do not earn enough are eliminated. One man casts his one vote and hopes against hope that his vote will not get lost from the electronic ballot box to the conventional delegates to the electoral college. One man has a tiny fraction of a vote. It is no wonder that so many of us feel so disempowered that we cease to participate with the system.

  111. 111 Virginia Davis
    May 4, 2008 at 05:06

    Hello all: I posted a bit a while ago on a different blog. What I said was to coordinate “regular people” attending the Games have some indication of solidarity with Tibet on their person – enough coordination so Chinese officialdom couldn’t discriminate.

    And some comments on “skinny” women. And American obesity based on income being a public health problem. eg Los Angeles limiting an increase in fast food outlets in “poor” neighborhoods.

    Jade: I listen to Prairie Home Companion sometimes; it comes on on Sat and Sun here in Oregon.

    Regarding homosexuality: is part of my life most of the time. I describe myself as “a latent bi-sexual” having made a conscious decision in the 70’s in San Francisco that acting on those feelings would complicate an already complicated life. I’m even “liberated” to the point that I can get annoyed when two gay men harass me in a grocery store and not consider it a big deal.

    Does media discriminate? Anyone watched Craig Ferguson lately – he is all over the map…. And funny 90% of the time.

    Virginia in Portland, OR

  112. 112 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 07:11

    Re Jade’s spaceship: interesting idea. if something like that were to happen then I think a lot of people would be very disappointed by the outcome.

    It would be an exercise in pure inequality and other practical considerations that would violate every PC consideration. First you’d have many more women than men aboard, for reproductive purposes. There would be no thought about making the occupants representative of the human race. You’d want people with very high IQs and with skills in such fields as chemistry, medicine, engineering, robotics, software engineering etc. Lawyers would be as necessary as used car salesmen. You’d probably want to store the eggs and sperm from many thousands more of the right kind of people to ensure future genetic diversity. You’d also want the occupants to be as homogeneous as possible, since if the future of humanity is at stake you don’t really want to re-create social divisions if you can avoid them. In any case, such a craft woud be largely populated by those parts of the world that abound in high IQ people with advanced technical skills. Many countries and regions would be significantly under-represented for this reason alone. There would be no manual workers at all since the humbler tasks of the ship could be carried out by the highly skilled.

    The result would be an exercise in unmitigated elitism that would shock those who believe in diversity, equality and take a left-liberal view of things. The lesson of this for me would be that it’s only when you find yourself in a crisis that you discover what is necessary and true, and what is politically sentimental and can be dispensed with.

  113. 113 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 07:38

    @Selena: re the crowds in Iraq – isn’t that symptomatic of the country’s deathwish?

    No country, whatever form of government it has, can survive if the use of force is not centralised, monopolised and rendered accountable. The existence of private militias is insane. Any government would have to act to exterminate them. That ordinary Iraqis oppose such action and support such militias indicates that Iraq has no future, at least as presently constituted. It’s entirely possible that the militias provide protection against Sunni militias. But that just accentutates the insanity, since the Iraqi government is supposed to be providing that protection and this would suggest that it is only nominally sovereign. In any case, in a genuine nation militias do not spring up to protect one part of the people against another part: Iraq is obviously three separate nations and by maintaining the fiction that it can be a united state the Bush administration simply prolongs its suffering. The state of affairs in Sadr city is also a reminder of the good points of ethnic cleansing: if Sunni and Shia populations had been peaceably separated it would have greatly reduced the opportunities for violence.

    But any attempt to divide Iraq will lead to predictable screams from the rest of the Arab and Muslim world: ‘it is a plot against Islam!’, ‘they want to weaken Iraq in order to strengthen Israel!’, ‘it is an attack on Arab unity!’, etc. This is why I say the Americans have never been serious. The partition of Iraq is necessary and would be right; if, as I think, the US won’t go down that road out of concern for the political paranoia this would spark in the Arab/Muslim world then they need to get out of Iraq asap since it’s a mess that they haven’t the will to clean up.

  114. 114 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 08:03

    Good morning everyone!

    @ Peter:

    You’re right about the EU to some extent, but the UK is still less affected by it than most other countries, because you have some rather special status. I also believe that in general not everything that comes out of Brussels is bad, as an example I want to take the smoking ban: Everybody knows that it’s bad for you if you smoke, yet many countries are still lagging behind in making appropriate laws that ban it from public places or ban advertisements directed at teenagers, Austria is one of those countries. Without the EU who will eventually force them to smarten up, nothing will ever change there, and you can still have the children’s play zone in a big fast food restaurant next to the smoking sections (that place at least has changed that in the meantime, but I was nevertheless shocked when I saw this 2 or 3 years ago…) Also in terms of standing up against other big economies like the US or Russia with their gas it is necessary to speak as one big European voice instead of “the Germans, the French, the English, the Italians, etc.”

    @ homosexuality:

    Has anyone seen the movie “The Kinsey report”? It’s about the collegeprofessor who in the fifties makes all these studies about sexuality in general. His findings show that on a scale of 1-5, 1 being totally straight and 5 totally homosexual (or the other way round, I don’t remember exactly), most of us are somewhere in between. I have met enough homosexuals in my life to believe that some of them never had a choice. There even has already one gen been identified that sits on the X-chromosome and is therefore inherited from your mother, and that gene makes for about 20% of all male homosexuals. Maybe this gene could survive in the genpool because these men will hopefully help to provide for their sisters and their offspring and therefore give those nieces and nephews and advantage over children that are raised/fed by only one male provider (daddy).

    My 2 cents…

  115. 115 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 08:56

    @Katharina: the EU can be commended on its economic side, but politically?

    Surely the government and people of each EU state should be the ones to determine how they wish to live their lives? Why should the EU be banning or regulating such things as smoking? Are EU bureaucrats any wiser than national governments? They are certainly a lot less accountable. And what happened to the notion of ‘diversity’ – why do all EU member states need to be under a uniform political and social regime?

    I think the European Union has been a disaster on its political side, and that there is in fact no need at all for it to have a significant political component. Europe’s nation-states are perfectly competent to manage their own domestic affairs. The EU should revert to its original role as a zone for economic co-operation and a means of making Europe a significant force in the global economy. Everything beyond that is unnecessary and undermines the idea that governments should be accountable to their people and people should live under laws made by their representatives.

  116. 116 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 09:49

    @ Victor:

    I agree that politically the EU still has a lot to learn, but I think that that has two reasons: 1) The political union as a serious concept is still fairly young, maybe ten or 15 years ro so and 2) more and more countries are joining the EU. 10 years ago we were 15 and now we’re 27, and the old concept of 1 country – one voice – one commision cannot work anymore because otherwise the whole EU government gets so much blown out of proportion that Brussels will physically stretch into the Netherlands, Germany, France and half of the Atlantic. So a new way has to be found, but this is very difficult because the smaller countries and the less rich ones fear (rightly) to loose influence.

    In terms of accountability I have to agree too, but then again, few politicians are being held accountable for their actions. George Bush even got reelected! In most EU countries, the politicians that are being sent to Brussels want to work there and the really gifted ones will even put the interests of the EU before the interests of their own countries, much to their dismay. Austria had one such politician, Franz Fischler, who took care of Agriculture and became rather unpopular in Austria, but did a very good job for Europe as a whole.

    @ Steve and environment:

    If the planes fly slower, then they can indeed save some fuel. More important though is that cars in the US become more fuel efficient and that houses become better insulated. I remember that when I lived in Canada, in Winter the outside walls of our appartments were freezing cold and all the windows were frozen over. Also, I once rented a car and got a Lincoln Navigator, and that beast swallowed 80 liters of fuel on a 200km trip. Horrible!

  117. 117 Mohammed Ali
    May 4, 2008 at 11:28

    I think everybody should be treated equally be it a gay, muslim, budhist or whatever. Equallu so, the gays should fight hard to make the world know that they are a vital part of the composition of society and this is not going to come on silver platter. The blacks in America and Europe fought hard for recognition and likewise other minority groups. Let the gays do the same.

  118. May 4, 2008 at 11:44

    Cyclone Nargis has hit Burma, killing at least 243, according to state media.

    My question is, should the West help provide aid to Burma to clean up after the cyclone? Or is the risk that the junta will take the money for other uses too much? When a natural disaster affects a dictatorship isolated and under sanction, should the sanctions be ignored to help the civilian populace?

  119. 119 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 11:44

    @Katharina: it’s the scramble for ‘influence’ that I object to in the EU. This is political influence – to steer the union in some preferred direction – and a desire to get as big a share of EU funds for one’s own country. Neither would happen if the EU were simply a trading bloc. There just shouldn’t be a political component to the EU’s activities for states to try to influence; and the EU should not be re-distributing wealth amongst its members. Free trade amongst members; giving Europe a powerful economic voice in the world’s affairs; and some measure of free movement of labour. That’s all we need from the EU.

    I think that Geroge Bush is very much accountable, and in at least three ways. The most obvious one is the fact that he had to be elected in the first place. Next, like any President he is liable to be impeached if his behaviour warrants that. And lastly, as the representative of his nation – and for the sake of his party – he needs to be and is receptive to public opinion. The policy advisers behind the whole failed Iraq intervention had intended that country to be the first domino to fall in a big plan for ‘regime change’ and ‘nation building’ throughout the Middle East (a few years ago, when their credibility wasn’t completely busted, they were claiming that ordinary Iranians were yearning to be invaded and occupied by the US and liberated from their cruel Mullahocracy, etc). 5 years of failure and futility in Iraq have made the American public extremely sceptical about this kind of talk and has probably saved Iran (and the US) from an Iraq Mk II.

  120. 120 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 11:52

    @ZK: why do you think the West should lead on aiding Burma? That role should fall to China, as the regime’s main ally. In addition, the other states of south east Asia are sufficiently prosperous, to make Western assistance redundant.

    The various regions of the world need to start taking responsibility for what happens in their backyards.

    No regime of sanctions should ever impede humanitarian aid.

  121. 121 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 12:30

    @ ZK:

    I’m sorry for the people there, but I wouldn’t (or rather won’t) send one dime to Burma. The regime there has proven that the prosperity and happiness of the people are of no interest and if we send money then it will only end up in the regime’s pockets and the people aren’t better off at all.

    @ VictorK:

    I still think it’s mainly growing pains, and the bickering and biting will slow down eventually. In the long run the EU will hopefully develop into a similar model as the US or Canada where you have a federal government and the indiviual states still have a lot to decide on their own. If the EU stayed only economic, then it wouldn’t be better than, say, Merril Lynch, not thinking further than the next quarter results.

  122. May 4, 2008 at 12:43

    @ Shirley.
    I and generally everybody with a vague understanding of capitalism realizes that the “Gas Holiday” is a dangerous joke. People are willing to pay the high price already, because they are doing it. If you remove the 18.4 cents then the supply chain will just increase their price to compensate. It would be a huge profit boot for the oil machines and we wouldn’t feel it. There is an even greater danger then want the tax is re-imposed, prices will have compensated for the missing tax, and then the consumer will have to now also pay for the gas tax. I can’t believe that anybody running for political office at those highest levels doesn’t have enough sense to see the obvious benefactors of such a proposal would be the oil companies. Or maybe they do see that. Then again these people have put hope in printing a bunch of money forcing the value of the dollar down, sending it out to people who are already in debt, and telling them to go spend it on goods made in China.

    Which brings me to another point @ Peter:

    I am a firm believer everybody should have the right to vote, but not everybody should vote. In the US we are being held hostage to the ignorant and easily marketed masses. If you don’t know the three major branches of government, the length of the term of a Supreme court judge, the three major steps of how an idea becomes a law, and which of Maynard’s band it the greatest, “tool” or “APC” then really you shouldn’t be voting.

    If you are not voting for Obama because he is a black Muslim with a controversial Christian pastor, you should be disqualified. If you still think Saddam had nuclear weapons, really your “special” but you shouldn’t be voting. If you think presidents has the ability to come to your house and take your guns away, stay at home and have a nice evening with your sister/ wife, but don’t go vote please.

    I think great election reform would require a test to be a voter that proves you have a basic knowledge of the governing process. Then finally, instead of picking a candidate, you would rate how you feel about issues and that would be matched up to the list of responses from the candidates. The voting machine would spit out the candidate that most closely resembles your views. Thank you for voting.

    That leads back @ Shirley.
    It isn’t the “two party system” that has robbed us of that choice. It is the popular “media” combined with a lack of education. When news outlets concentrate on hair cuts, friends words, belief in aliens, skin color, religion, demographics, and other no-related issues when covering the candidates they are catering to the lowest levels. When people who watch things like “24” as if it is a documentary are allowed to vote, it is weakening our system. When politicians are allowed to use scare tactics when campaigning to reach the least aware of the voters, it is twisting the system. When all of these elements speak of the people outside the country as if they are just objects removed from humanity, they are promoting that ignorance. And why do they do that? Because “supply side vs. demand side economics” is too hard to fit in a 43 second clip.

    You wouldn’t let your insurance agent, your Ex’s lawyer, the beggar on the street corner, and your 80 year old grandmother decide on the best course of action to treat your brain tumor would you? Some of them might actually care about your well being. But, they know nothing about how your body works. Picking candidates isn’t brain surgery, but to do it with desired results requires basic understanding of what is BS and what is plausible.

    Hope this wasn’t too long.

  123. 123 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 13:51

    Jade, I saw the movie Prairie Home Companion but I have never seen the show.

    The movie was the best but I daresay not for everyone. 🙂

  124. May 4, 2008 at 13:55

    Hi again Precious ZK and Precious Steve- I’m back ! Wow, so according to Good VictorK’s thoughts, I won’t have a place on that glorious spaceship right ?! :-). Hi Precious Jade… I love your idea… There’s an Iraqi wise saying that I love the most : A paradise in which your loved ones aren’t present isn’t worthy of living in ! Precious Jade, your idea reminded me of a question that one of my best girlfriends asked me a long time ago… She asked : Lubna, if you to flee Iraq forever, whom are you gonna take with you ?! I replied : I’m gonna take Baghdad and all its people with me ! And the same thing goes for your glorious spaceship Precious Jade… I do hope that you got my point… And to Shirley my love : A very big Salaam (peace) to you too sweetie… You may wanna check out your inbox… As for your question about other Iraqi active militias, you want examples sweetie ? Here are some : Badr militia which belongs to the Iraqi Islamic Supreme counsil (a major Shiite political party in the current Iraqi government with very strong links to both Iran and the US), Al Fadheela militia which belongs to Al Fadheela Shiite political party, and many others… With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  125. May 4, 2008 at 13:58

    VictorK: Why not? If the West is serious about wanting change in Burma surely the best way forward is to start by helping the people on the ground? Win their support with financial help which their government won’t provide.

  126. 126 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 14:09

    Jade, you are right the burden of history is the cause of conflict. Remove history and the desire to be the best and all conflict would disappear.

    So your group would need to have its history expunged before setting out on the journey.

    The idea of clinging to one’s own history has always intrigued me. History is an accident of birth, like wealth is an accident to birth. It confers no special rights, except that laid down by man.

    It is good for one’s ego to think that God has special groups but, in all seriousness, do we really believe that?

  127. 127 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 14:19

    @ZK: yes, it turn’s on what you said – ‘If the West is serious about wanting change in Burma.’

    I think the West is sincere but, as with many other foreign policy issues, not serious. Otherwise Western governments would recognise the fact that the only lasting change is generated from within and not imposed from without or temporarily secured by bribes. And that means the Burmese people must start doing more than stand by and let a handful of brave monks fight the battle on their behalf.

    But let’s assume you’re right and that financial aid can be a first step towards change in Burma: why should it come from the West? China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia…are they really less concerned about the situation in Burma than Poland, Finland and Portugal? If not, let them take the lead; if so, why?

    What I’d like to see is a progressive Western disengagement from the internal affairs of other countries and other regions (withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, an end to funding for the Palestinian Authority, less criticism of Zimbabwe, etc) at least when there are states with a more direct and appropriate interest in the matter in question.

  128. 128 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 14:41

    @Selena: you sound like an aspiring revolutionist!

    “…the burden of history is the cause of conflict.” How, in what way? Surely conflict is caused by self-interest and a distaste for procedures of conciliation and compromise? Why blame history?

    “Remove history and the desire to be the best and all conflict would disappear.” Doubtful, but even if true isn’t it academic as the solution is impossible? Besides, hasn’t the desire to be the best often worked itself out in peaceful ways and, in producing excellence, been a benefit to mankind?

    “So your group would need to have its history expunged before setting out on the journey.” I think history would inspire the travellers: the history of human struggle and achievement and the determination that it should not all come to an end.

    “The idea of clinging to one’s own history has always intrigued me.” History is part of ones identity – it’s only natural to hold onto it.

    “History is an accident of birth, like wealth is an accident to birth. It confers no special rights, except that laid down by man.” Birth is an accident of birth; history is the product of human will and activity (with the odd accident thrown in). Wealth is more likely to be the product of intelligence, hard work and sacrifice than of chance. But history does confer special rights. To have been born in a country like Great Britain, the USA, Canda, France or Sweden confers all sorts of rights that are lacking to those born in a country with a less favourable history. And there’s nothing accidental about those rights: they were achieved through the effort, and sometimes the blood, of previous generations. Such achievements deserve to be remembered…as history.

    “It is good for one’s ego to think that God has special groups but, in all seriousness, do we really believe that?” Some religions are not so narrow. Their view would be something along the lines of God taking a special interest in his creation, and especially in its highest expresion – humanity.

  129. 129 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 14:43

    Aung San Suu Kyi is being made an honorary citizen of Canada. Any thoughts on that?

  130. 130 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 4, 2008 at 14:47

    Hi Selena:

    I only caught the tail end of the burden that history confers on you. I wonder, perhaps, if you could talk some more about that? I am curious, of course, because I think it is the nature of man to stir up conflicts even where none existed. History just provides a convenient explanation as to why that is so, but is not the actual cause of the conflict. So, I would be more than happy to hear more on the subject.

    As for wealth, I do think it confers special privileges even at birth. You are born into a culture which seems to respect money more than people that has to be “special” in some way. You get all the added perks of being one of the “special” ones, as a result of wealth and all that that can buy. They even say money is power, whereas you can have power without having money, necessarilly. What think you?

  131. 131 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 15:05

    @ VictorK, I am always amused by sci fi movies when aliens landed on Earth, they said, ” take us to your leader.” They were taken to the White House. It’s a Hollywood movie… I mean, our habitual point of origin can limit us.

    Assuming that no ONE country can take on a huge project like the evacuation spacecraft; and for all the technology, materials, human resource, hard skills and soft skills to make the project work, the code is that passengers are chosen by computerized scoring system based on objective criterias (selection committee are not guaranteed to be passengers, certainly not their families). When humans have to leave Earth, people’s outlook would have changed. Many preconceptions and attitudes have been questioned. People have gone through pain and transformation.

    However, your last sentence can be intepreted in another way. The lesson would be that it’s only when you find yourself in a crisis that you discover what is necessary and true, and what is politically sentimental and can be dispensed with. The computer selection programme would be administered by people who are neutral in politics.

    @ Lubna, Lets’ assume that after all the essential workers were selected, so that the spacecraft is manned, and a new colony can begin on a barren land, the balance of the quota was chosen by ballots, and you picked a long stick. Would you go? We all have attachments to our homeland, people, culture. It made us who we are. We are grounded (forgive my pun). Everyday I hear the news in your country. I admire your courage.

    @ Selena, Prairie Home Companion is a weekly radio show. Sometimes they travel. Every year they’re on stage at the Ravinia Festival, Northshore Chicago. It’s one of the very few US programme that was relayed to UK audience. I think that’s saying something.

    @ ZK, the formula of sending money and troops to a country in trouble does not always work. B. Clinton talked about long-term aid by empowering the people, let the people take care of themselves. Besides, lots of money have gone missing when there are intermediate agents.

  132. 132 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 15:32

    More behavior by people that disgusts me. The horse was never meant to run like that. It’s people’s fault the horse got hurt, and you just kill it rather than spend money and own up to your responsibility? Why don’t we shoot athletes? Disgusting… If anything, we owe horses more than we owe athletes because at least the athlete CHOSE to get involved in the event. The horse is treated like a slave, and then shot when it’s no longer of use.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/more/05/03/bc.us.rac.kentuckyderby.belles.ap/index.html?eref=T1

  133. May 4, 2008 at 15:42

    Selena:

    If by “burden of history causes the conflict” you are referring to the circle of violence some people, nations, regions are trapped in, then I agree. While history can not be changed, there was this really cool dude a few thousand years ago who had an alternative plan. “Forgiveness”. He said that only through “forgiveness” could we attain peace. Forgiveness expunges history. The guy was a nut job though. He also thought he was the son of God. They eventually ran him out of town on a stick or something like that.

    VictorK is right when he says wealth is the product of “intelligence (which itself is accidental in nature), hard work, and sacrifice.” It is also a product of chance. All of these attributes are weighted differently with chance being the most heavily weighted. There is a saying common in these parts, “I would rather be lucky then talented.” Then all of these are based on your personal definition of “wealth”.

    Most people can’t grasp the relationship of history and it’s effect on those products that make up wealth. As an example, take a black man in the US in 1862. Lincoln said, “Every slave is now free”. His response should have been, “Great, guess what, I am not educated, I have no land, no money, no resources, and now I am unemployed.” Not only that, they are not revered as equals and nobody really wants them around. A group of poor, uneducated, unwanted, homeless people are told to go live the “American dream”. Just don’t do it in my neighborhood. Jim Crow laws ended in 1965. Even if your situation was exactly the same as a person not descendant of slaves, your opportunities to “get lucky” were and still are not even close.

  134. 134 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 16:00

    Hello again Everybody,
    Katharina in Ghent. I am a smoker and the smoking ban has spoilt my local pub. When we want to smoke we go out to the garden where an open ended conservatory provides us with shelter. I feel like a leper. Even the non smokers come and join us as they enjoy our company. Sadly I think it will have to close as so few people use any pubs now. I accept educating younger people. I started smoking when I was 12. I am at an age when every year I lose friends to various illnesses. The biggest killer has been drink not smoking. Do we ban that too? I object very strongly to bowing down to an unelected President Mr. Barosso. Even Hitler was democratically elected. The British People vote for The European Economic Community. We were conned! We’ve never been asked since.

    Homosexuality. I did forget to mention that I did go to a “gay pride” march about 40 years ago. I’ve never been to one since. I prefer to show those who know me that I do not pose a threat. As for self hate I love ME! If I had to be born again I would want to be the same, heartaches and all. I feel it has made me a stronger person?

    Computer games. I love adventure games, looking for clues etc. Sadly old age means my responses tend to be a bit slow. I look for age range beginning about 7.

    Thanks for all your replies will continue to read with interest. Don’t laugh I posted this about half an hour ago then realised I hadn’t put in my personal details and the whole lot was erased!!!!!! That’s old agetoo!

  135. 135 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 16:04

    @ Selena, yes, the moment we are born, we are accidentally attached to history, gender, race, looks, wealth or lack of it. For Christians, the Bible talked about “Promised Land”, “Chosen People”. So yes, God assigned privilege to special groups. I do not know enough to discuss what this means though. It must be political and intertwined with history.

    @ Selena, rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    I think, knowledge is more powerful than wealth. There was a cognitive science experiment that scanned the brains of people before and after training sessions. The brain changed, showed more synapses, connections, hot spots. People born with money can lose their money if they don’t have intelligence. Most of the family-owned companies can’t maintain after 3 generations. Granddad worked hard, rags to riches and established a family business, father saw how the fortune was earned and inherited the money as well as the work attitude. Grandson had an easy life, born with silver spoon, don’t work, play hard and squandered his inheritance. The company collapsed or outsiders were brought in to run the company. The rich grandson has no more wealth and power.

    @ Dwight, given a chance to learn new things, e.g., a skill, how things work, what people are thinking, how one should live one’s life, would someone choose to learn that or not to learn that? Is it a question of history, or the person?

    @ Steve, with all the money that she made for gamblers, there is no technology to haul her to the vet. See, the value of her is in future racing. Maybe she can be used for breeding. I don’t know. Maybe she’s in pain and that was to comfort her. Certainly, she won’t race as before again. It must be very expensive to maintain a horse like that. Says a lot about how humans spend money that was earned by what means. The motto? don’t be a race horse. Horses are known to push on beyond its own limits and fall dead, while a mule would stop to rest, tolerating some beating, and survive.

    @ All, do you see a grey head silhouette icon to the left of your name?

  136. 136 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 16:10

    @ Peter

    You kind of contradict yourself, can you see it? You don’t hate yourself, but you are a smoker. But then again we could say that about eating red meat, living by powerlines, etc, lots of things are bad for us yet we still do them. I’m guilty of being a social smoker when I drink. I don’t even think I’m capable of having a beer without a cigarette. Where I live you can still smoke in bars, but in neighboring areas like DC and Maryland, smoking is banned. I don’t really think it has affected business too much. Early on, some places closed down. In virginia, the dive bars would surely close if smoking were banned, because everyone in them smokes. But I agree with you on the nanny state issue. If it were truly about health, then they would ban alcohol. They would ban fried food and red meat in bars too. It’s all bad for you. It’s not about the employees, because most bartenders are smokers themselves, and they have the ability to have ventiliation systems that would completely remove the smoke, and honestly, again, if it were about health, they’d ban cars, because the automobile pollution is far worse. It’s the result of self righteous people on the far left that don’t like the smell of smoke, so they want in banned. If you ever go to Ontario, they make you feel more like a leper. I’m not defending smoking, I think it’s disgusting and stupid, but in Ontario you cannot even smoke in the outside if there’s any kind of canopy. You basically have to stand in the middle of the street.

    Where smoking has been banned, people have been complaining about street noise as people go outside. Ther’e’s also a greater chance for violence as people are outside, and more chances for accident,s like drunks getting hit by cars or something else. The stupidest thing I have ever seen was a “cigar bar” in Breckenridge Colorado, where you had to go outside to smoke the cigar. That’s what happens when you left far lefties get into power. I think in DC even they had enough sense to grant exemptions to cigar bars.

  137. 137 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 16:45

    @ smoking:

    I’m a social smoker myself, so it’s not that I’m comletely against it. I haven’t been to Ontario in four years, when I left it was still allowed to smoke in bars, but that may have changed now. What I wanted to speak up against is smoking in “family restaurants”, where you sit with children and when you leave the place you smell as if you spent the night in the bar. In Austria we also still have commercials aiming at teenagers, and a few years ago they would still come in clubs and distribute free cigarettes. I don’t know if that is still allowed, but it certainly took the liberty too far, just like providing smoking rooms in schools!!!!! It’s one thing to go into a bar and have a smoke and it’s another to seduce 12-14year olds to get addicted.

  138. 138 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 4, 2008 at 16:46

    Hi Jade:

    I could not agree with you more, in terms of the importance of knowledge compared to wealth. After all, you can make lots of wealth with just a little know-how. However, I was referring to the fact that in the modern world, there are somethings which are considered more important, at birth, than others.

    At birth, we have very little way of knowing whether one with will be more knowledgeable than those who have gone before, or even just as knowledgeable or less so. So, we rank that as less important than the wealth into which one is born. After all, at that stage we are able to separate the sheep from the goat, as it were.

    However, over time, the issue of knowledge and these other attributes which may lead to wealth creation, as well as other things, are realised. These, I think, must be nurtured and encouraged so as to ensure that their full potentials are realised. For surely, knowledge in and of itself has no more purpose than the air we breathe. (Though air is a very important chemical which if we do not have it we will die. So…) We have to be able to exploit the gains of that resource in order for its value to be realised. No?

    And, while we are at it, can someone tell me what they understand the term “promiscuous” to mean? I ask, because I was asked to work with some undergraduates a whiles back in a gender course and that term was being bandied about with so much regularity I started to wonder what it meant.

    Is it, on the face of it, one who has alot of sex with different people; or alot of sex; or is it that, promiscuous relates more to the value placed on the attitudes of those presumed to be very sexually active and also have lots of partners?…Something to think about, I am sure.

  139. 139 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 16:49

    I live right next to Arlington Cemetary, and heard my first flyover in a long time. I realize some General or whatever died, but in this day and age, when gas is expensive, and the greenhouse gases they produce are enormous, should we still have military fly overs for funerals? IS there another way to honor them that doesn’t waste resources and damage the environment?When my cousin was buried there a couple years ago he had an honor guard shooting guns, isn’t that enough? What would happen if one of those F-16s crashed? IT’s not like this is a rural area. There are hundreds of thousands of people here.

  140. 140 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 17:00

    Thanks for your reply Steve.
    I did forget to mention that I have advised my GP (doctor) that if I cotract lung cancer I will refuse treatment. I do contribute a small monthly amount to our national hospice movement as that is perhaps where I would die. My body is bequested to medical science too. I do not drive so perhaps overall pollute less than most.?

    Forgot to say also I would not gigve to the Burma relief fund should one be set up. After The Christmas Tsunami it was shown that a lot of the donations went into “officials” pockets.

  141. 141 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 17:02

    @ Steve:

    BTW, how was your bike ride? Did you have fun?

  142. 142 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 17:03

    It’s still early Katharina, I’m going to go later after peak sun is over. Actually that’s a lie, I’m watching Top Gun right now but will go after the movie is over.

  143. May 4, 2008 at 17:12

    @ Steve,

    Here in Ohio it wasn’t the “far lefties” that saw the ban pushed through. It was the “Right Wing evangelical nuts” who think smoking is a “sin” teaming with there “free enterprise” pharmaceuticals. If you make a product to help people quit smoking, your next step is to generate interest in that product. Make it impossible for people to smoke, and they will seek ways to quit. There are marketing people who sit around thinking of ways to do that.

    Another Joke: A 60 yr old man goes to the doc for a physical. He says to the doc, “Strong heart beat huh doc? Do you think it will keep beating for me, keep me alive until I am 80?” The doc says, “Do you drink or smoke?” “Nope, never a cigarette and haven’t drank in 20 years”. Dock says, “Do you participate dangerous activities, involved in extreme sports like sky diving.” Old guy says, “No, no reason to jump from a perfectly good plane.” Doc says,”Do you hang with loose women, stay out all night” old guy, “No in bed by 8 and have been faithful to my wife of 40 yrs.” The Doc, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Your heart will keep beating most likely, but you are already dead?”

    Virginia may not have a smoking ban, but they have a dumb helmet law. I ride 700 miles on a long trip that ended on Virginia Beach. It is 90 degrees out on the coolest part of the day. My wife and I want to cruise the strip, feel the breeze without having our full face helmet on. We can’t it is against the law. Then so is cruising. And, as it turns out, so is cursing on the street.

    @ Jade

    The answer is dependant on a lot of factors, and history being one of them. If a kid in an inner city family sees his four older brothers end up in prison, guess what past history is telling him. He is probably going to end up there too. Most will embrace that fact, some will try and rise above it, and few will actually succeed. If you have no support and heavy pier pressure and little education it is nearly impossible. Being given that chance many will ask why. “Why should I learn to work a 9 to 5 job. Everybody I know who works one is miserable. My brother worked as a welder in a factory for 10 years. They laid him off; nobody has a job around here. The only ones making cake are the guys selling drugs and pimpin.’” This has gone on for generations. I guess what I am saying it takes being a stronger force then the ones pulling to what they know to encourage them to trust the source of their “chance”. Social constraints are way harder to saw through then metal chains. 90% of us will make a living in the same class and type of work as our parents.

  144. 144 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 17:14

    VictorK says “re the crowds in Iraq – isn’t that symptomatic of the country’s deathwish?”

    You will have to explain that question more. Did the country have a death wish when the US invaded?

  145. 145 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 17:22

    Dwight, you mean motorcycle instead of bicycle right? I would think it’s crazy to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Everyone I’ve ever known who rode motorcycles got killed. I saw some guy get decapitated when I was a kid in a motorcycle accident. It’s just like with driving cars, and wearing seatbelts. DRiving is a privilege, not a right, and the point of the rule is for safety. Wouldn’t you want to feel safer given that your odds of getting ran over by a soccer mom in a SUV while yapping on the cell phone not noticing you is rather high?

  146. 146 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 17:26

    Hi again Katherina in Ghent. I fully agree with you about smiking in restaurants. I cannot afford to eat out very often being a pensioner but would never smoke in any eating establishment. I aslo do not smoke on public transport ( not allowed anyway). I do feel privately owned pubs in The UK should have been given the choice of being smoking or non-smoking. Our supermarkets use drink as a loss leader and it is often cheaper than bottled water. I never use bottled water.

    Talking of water I just received my water bill and in 6 months I used 7 cubic metres. Is that quite good? I am very careful.

  147. 147 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 17:29

    But Peter, shouldn’t the nanny state make your decisions for you? For the love of God! We’re talking about bars! Everything in them is bad for you! I think the sanity line got crossed when Las Vegas banned smoking. It’s “sin city”, people go there to do bad things, prostitution, gamble, drink, eat badly, but smoking, oh no, that must be banned!

  148. 148 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 17:30

    Hehehe, you know the saying of the road to failure? It’s plastered with good intentions… If you make it out of the door today, you will prove me wrong.

  149. 149 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 17:38

    @ Peter:

    I think your water bil is great, we (family of three) used over 30 cubic meters. Last weekend I came up with the question whether I have the moral obligation to save water even though I (like you) live in a country with so much rain that it’s coming out of my ears. The water that I save will still not go to countries that desperately need water, I will just save money. What do you think?

  150. May 4, 2008 at 17:39

    Slight digression here, but I remember listening to Crossing Continents on Radio 4 a while ago. Apparently prostitution is actually illegal in Las Vegas.

  151. 151 Shirley
    May 4, 2008 at 17:46

    Katharina,
    Flying and driving slower, and becoming more fuel efficient on the indivdual level, is certainly important when we consider the world’s environmental health. Hwoever, the biggest polluters (spelling?) are corporations – factories and plants that spew tons of hydrocarbons and carcinogens into the air each year. Until we can force them to implement production methods that drastcally reduce or eliminate these toxic outputs, our own contributions to the environment will only serve as tiny drops in a very arge bucket.

    salam, Lubna:
    I’ve become familiar with the names Mahdi militia and Badr Brigade and their respective associations with relgiious scholars/councils. The Fadeelah militia is new on me, though, and so is the religious party. Is there a particular rleigious scholar or family/clan/tribe of scholars that is associated with it? Are there other militias that operate in places like Najaf, Karbala, or Basra? I’ll drop in on my inbox as soon as I have the chance.

    Steve,
    Thank you so much for bringing up the issue of animal racin and how it is nothing more than glorified animal abuse. My fmaily and I were discussing that just the other day in the context of dog racing. Why do we draw the line between animal racing and animal fighting when both forms of animal sports are abuse?

    Dwight,
    I agree that the media does indeed contribute to the problem by droning the public into a dazed state of apathethy and convincing them not to use the kinds of critical thinking skils necessary to make good decisions. However, Isee it as part of a greater problem and not the sole cause of the problem. I also do not think that the solution lies in removing the right to vote from the mass public. That would also be a form of elitism that I hate so much.

  152. 152 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 17:50

    VictorK Selena: you sound like an aspiring revolutionist!

    Maybe not aspiring because I have already push the revolutionary buttons a few times. 😉

    Conflict is caused by groups/religions carrying on vendettas for millennia. In a way that is self-interest. But in another way the group/religion is more important than the individual, who is expected to subvert his/her own interests for the interests of the group. This is history. History is to blame.

    No, I don’t think the desire to be the best has worked itself out in peaceful ways. It is doubtful if the desire to be the best is of any benefit whatsoever to society or the individual. Any benefits to the society as a whole are negated by the stress of competition. And it goes without saying that the individual suffers. I don’t think the solution is impossible. Impossible is a negative word meaning cop out.

    LOL what does history inspire? It inspires war, war and more war. History guarantees more of the same. Do we want that if we start over?

    Is it natural to cling to one’s history? I don’t cling to my history.

    If you think you are better because you were born in a certain country, then great for you. But I don’t think so. For me I was lucky to be born into the country and lifestyle into which I was born.

    That is a ‘lovely’ phrase “blood of previous generations”.

    Now why don’t I want to be reminded of the blood of previous generations? It is best to forget what the blood of previous generations did to get us to where we are today, in my view.

    Religions are narrow by definition. If we think our religion is truth and the religion of others is false that’s narrow!

    All religions believe that! Religion takes no interest in the humanity of another religion.

    Hope the post is not too long. 🙂

  153. 153 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 17:51

    Motorcycling without helmet reminds me of a book I browsed in the library. See
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_Awards
    http://darwinawards.com/book/1/ and

    There are some strange stories. Fun/ machismo vs. survival.

    About banning smoking. I have no objection to smoking. I understand some people cannot think without nicotine while some smoke out of boredom. I just walk away if I can’t stand the smell & I only go to places where I have a smoke-free area. I need to wash my hair and clothes if I stay in that environment but that’s not difficult.

  154. 154 Shirley
    May 4, 2008 at 17:53

    btw, Lubna, I don’t see anything in my email yet

    I might have spelled it incorrectly; let me check it over the next day or two and get back with you.

  155. 155 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 17:56

    Oh Shirley,

    I couldn’t agree more with you! The problem is that all over the world the big industries have their lobbies right next to the local president, with big donations for his next campaign. Luckily, there are at least now some economists who started to put a pricetag on NOT reacting, instead of what the changes would cost the industry. But the message is sinking in far too slowly, I fear. In the meantime, I try to use my car as little as possible and heat responsibly, among other things.

  156. 156 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 17:57

    Hi again Katherina in Ghent,
    We have had water shortages in The UK. I save rain water for the garden. I save rinsing water from the washing machine to help flush the toilet. That can also be used on the garden. I’m sorry to say The British are very wasteful indeed. We have become an easy come easy go society. I think that is what keeps our economy going? Doesn’t do much for the environment.

  157. 157 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 18:00

    @ Selena: you asked, re Iraq, “Did the country have a death wish when the US invaded?” No, but it developed one soon afterwards.

    There is no good reason at all why Iraq, even under occupation, could not have been at peace for the past 5 years except that all Iraqis don’t want that. If they’d chosen peace the occupation would probably have been over by now. When the occupation began the Iraqis’ situation was not as bad, materially, as that of Japan (large casualties and a couple of atomic bombs) at the end of WWII or Germany (large casualties, devastated cities, the permanent loss of a significant chunk of its territory, the expulsion of over 10 million Germans from the lost territory and the need to accommodate them as refugees, and the occupation of the eastern part of the country by Stalin).

    And though people like to blame the US for what’s happening there almost everyone takes it for granted that if the US were to leave today the situation would escalate desperately tomorrow.

    If you support private armies in your country then you must expect bloodshed and chaos. The Somalis have experienced just this for years. This was the case with Lebanon not that long ago. And if Iraq is the kind of place that requires private armies to supply the protection that an ineffectual central government can’t, then it’s time to abolish ‘Iraq’ and replace it with new states that reflect the natural loyalties of its three main groups (added to other measures, such as replacing the existing Coalition with a Muslim one, and arranging a transfer of populations so that you have 3 ethnically compact .states repalcing the failed diverse unitary state).

    I don’t think George Bush is a bad man. He had several motives for intervening in Iraq, but I don’t question his good intentions. His fault was in attempting what we now know to have been impossible and what in any case he had no right to attempt: imposing ‘freedom and democracy’ where there wasn’t a tradition of either.

  158. 158 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 18:13

    I would like to hear what ZK have to say about Katharina’s ” The problem is that all over the world the big industries have their lobbies right next to the local president, with big donations for his next campaign.”

    Does this apply in South East Asia?

  159. 159 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 18:20

    RPJS, I have always been impressed by religion and history. The foundation upon which Jews, Christians and Muslims construct their life is the Old Testament. It is the underpinning for the present day beliefs of all three faiths. From that book all other books flow!

    Jesus brought a radical new idea into the limelight. But even his followers were so indoctrinated they could only see his radical idea from within the context of the ideas they already held.

    The OT starts off with conflict and contained within its pages is more and more conflict. There is a constant struggle between good and evil.

    There is no way of knowing, with any certainty, whether we would be any better if we didn’t get this good/evil paradigm imprinted upon us from birth. There is no way of knowing because we have always been told we are bad and must strive to be good. All of the constructs of society are born out of this idea.

    My vision is, if we were not told that we are born sinners and if this knowledge did not keep us in a tailspin, we might not need conflict to prove we are in control.

    Money is power! In the society, which we have created, money is everything. And money does make us happy to some extent… at least, more happy than no money. But money does not satisfy the emptiness created by the certain knowledge that we are born evil.

  160. 160 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 18:23

    @ VictorK, I heard from the media that several things happened around “mission accomplished”: leader’s statue toppled, local army disbanded, oil wells protected.

    Few people are trully bad, ignorance plus power just make someone more dangerous. Video games and wars with real blood are different.

  161. 161 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 18:32

    Hi again everybody,
    I’m so enjoying this! Modern technology can bring people together.I’ve touched on environmental issues. I feel i do my “bit”. I do not drive a car. Do not have a mobile phone. Do smoke. Do drink. Walk when possible or use public transport.

    The EU (my favourite hate) tells us we must be greener. Do European Politicians practice what they preach? If not why should we?

    I cannot comment too much on Iraq as I’m not very knowledgable on that. The British People did rally en masse but were ignored. Do we have democracy?

    I’m interested to know how you access The BBC. It costs UK residents £130 per annum which I suppose is not bad. I think that is about 200 Euros and 260 Dollars. I think The World Service is pretty good as brings bit of news we wouldn’t otherwise hear. Also here it brings us all together, wonderful.

  162. May 4, 2008 at 18:34

    Steve, it all comes back to the joke. I love ridding a motorcycle. It makes me feel “alive”. Nothing pleases me more then feeling the wind in my face. Me and the dog will often fight to stick our heads out the window on the first warm days of spring. If I should die on my bike, when you find my head, it will have a gigantic smile on it. I only hope I was doing over 200 MPH when it happened. In which case I would have had a helmet on. Getting run over by a cell phone talking soccer mom driving an SUV might save my skull, but not my back. I will be a very alert quadriplegic. No thanks.

    The “it is a privilege not a right to drive” is a whole other can of worms. What I will say is even if that were true, my not riding with a helmet is not infringing on the rights of anybody else. I am risking nobody’s safety but my own by not wearing one. There isn’t even a “secondhand brain damage” as a result. Why should the state tell me I can’t do it? Anymore then they should be able to tell me I can’t smoke.

    Glad to meet you Steve. There you know me. I have been riding motorized two wheelers since I was 6. Actually learned before I could ride a regular bicycle. I have been riding for 30 years. I have never been in an accident. (knocking on the wooden desk) I have 20 friends that I speak to at least once a month that have motorcycles. (especially this time of year.) I have only lost one friend to a motorcycle accident. He was out drinking. Now riding a vehicle that requires quick reflexes and balance after consuming a beverage that dulls your reflexes and messes with your sense of balance is not a motorcycle accident. It is a stupidity accident. He was swerving through traffic like he was some kind of stunt driver. Oh yah, he had his helmet on. But when you get hit by a semi, then run over by a tow truck, the helmet does little to help. Now you have me plus 20 other people who have been riding an average of 15 years that you know that hasn’t died riding a motorcycle.

    Seatbelts? My brother was an MP in Michigan on an Air Force base. He had to watch a little kid burn to death because he couldn’t get the seatbelt undone.

  163. 164 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 19:21

    Hi Peter,

    We outside access BBC through the internet and the radio, mostly. Here in Belgium I regularly listen to BBC World Service because my flemish is still not very good (go figure) and I’m also not too interested into the local news here. On cable I also get BBC1 and 2 and BBC World, but I have to admit that I don’t watch those too often. Anyway, all of this is free to me, courtesy of the British taxpayers, so I have to thank you personally for keeping the BBC alive. I find the news on BBC world service really great, because it covers events from all over the world, and brings only little about what is happening in the UK (no offense, but I don’t know what’s going on in, say, Gloucestershire, and it probably has no influence on my life). They bring though a LOT about English Soccer, more that I would even listen to if I cared, but I take this as a tribute to English expatriates.

    BBC rocks!

  164. 165 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 19:25

    😉 Dwight, everyone who preaches forgiveness is a nut case! I enjoyed your motorcycle post.

  165. May 4, 2008 at 19:26

    @ VictorK

    Let’s take NYC as an example. Form certain perspectives it is a pretty screwed up city. There are murders, extortion, fraud, prostitution, smoking inside bars, armed gangs that resemble militias, and scared people who would just love to live in peaceful neighborhoods. That doesn’t give Cleveland the right to go invade NYC to try and set things right. Nor would the people of NYC want that. Bombing their infrastructure back into the Stone Age left them in worse conditions then they lived under before. Imagine New York City where all of the sudden the gangs are let out onto the street from prison, the electricity is shut down for years, it is dangerous to go to the corner market, there is no police, no political infrastructure, not fire department, nothing that resembles law and order. There are no hospitals, no doctors, no drugstores to get Prozac. Imagine if it happened over night. It is just the jungle. They don’t know us Clevelanders. Everything they have heard about us for years is that we are dirty, our river caught on fire, and we are just hungry for more water and chemicals. In times of crisis humans naturally band together with people they trust, people most like them. Enter the gangs. They offer security, and in some cases infrastructure. The only thing they require is closed mouths. Easy enough who wants a battle to rage in your neighborhood anyway.

    That is what you are looking at in Iraq. You cannot compare it to Germany or Japan. Those were countries with united fronts. We weren’t entering a civil war as a 4th party. In 1926 the British shoved the Kurds, the Sunni, and the Shia together and called them a country. They never did like each other, but they had come a long way as a culture in spite of their political situation before the US invaded. The actions by the US has unstableized the regional advances back 80 years.

    Having to flat out lie to the American people in order to market the war should have been the first sign it wouldn’t go well. As much as I bash us as a mass, we sure are slow to anger and ready to forgive as a whole. It has always taken fearmongering and deception to get us into these situations. Check out what Cheney had to say in ’94 about going into Iraq. He can’t claim ignorance.

    http://logicandpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/08/cheney-invading-baghdad-would-create.html

    Lubna, would love to have you tell me if you think I am far off base and of course why.

    Been great all, I am gone for the day. Steve, Amazing job this weekend. Inputing ideas when things started to lag to get things going again. Nice. ZK you too. Kept the borad open almost without too many pauses that i could tell.

  166. 167 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 4, 2008 at 19:37

    5th Blank Page on BBC World Have Your Say:

    Good Job, Steve and ZK…..

  167. 168 VictorK
    May 4, 2008 at 20:00

    Yeah, what Dennis said.

    Nice job Steve & ZK, another enjoyable page.

    Oh, and @ Steve: you can unlock the cupboard and let him out now.

  168. 169 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 20:17

    Hi Katherina in Ghent,
    Delighted you enjoy The BBC and am happy to pay when it brings me in contact with so many people. I don’t actually like football but accept they have to cater for everybody.

  169. 170 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 20:25

    Sounds like you people are quitting! The day is still young! I’ll be out periodically, though. Bike ride has been converted into a trip to the gym, unfortunately.

  170. 171 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 20:30

    Hi Selena,
    Just read your link. I’ve said for a long time that both Iraq and Iran have some really valuable biblcal sites. If circumstances were different and of course if the people wanted it they would be so fascinating to visit. Even though I am not religious it wouod be interesting to see “where it happened” Similar can be said of Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and lebanon. I think where possible they should be saved but it’s easier said than done.

    When I was young we were taught The Ancient Britons were painted blue with wode and wore a bit of fur. Thanks to archaology we now know they were very sophisticated.

  171. 172 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 21:24

    Hey Peter,

    I have conflicting views on preserving heritage. On the one hand, I work hard to preserve a link to the past and on the other hand I believe that dwelling too much on heritage is not good for moving forward.

    I love visiting ancient sites and reading ancient texts. It tells me we haven’t changed all that much, in spite of our pretense to evolution.

  172. 173 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 21:28

    ZK and Steve, another wonderful weekend. You outdid yourselves… not a sign of conflict. 😉

    Catch you when you come back from the Gym, Steve. One thing we could talk about is your idea about horses and whether they should be regarded as objects for humans to do with as they please.

  173. 174 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 21:34

    @ Selena:

    Well, the counterargument would be, should we be able to do the things we with other animals? YOu know the killing tens of thousands of chickens per day, cows, pigs, etc, like we own them and their lives. Horse racing is just but one example of how we treat animals as if we have some destiny to play God over them, and unfortunately religion really has given license to people to abuse other life and the planet.

    I sound like a total flake today, but I’m going on a long walk. It’s just too nice outside. Had a bike issue, have to get a replacement tube..

  174. 175 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 21:35

    I listen to BBC via NPR (National Public Radio), BBC America Tv channel, and live streaming via the internet. NPR is public, does not get money from advertisers, so they rely on fund-raising drives. I was a member but discovered that my contact info was given to their affiliates. I received many invitation to join and donate through the mail every season. Direct mails just piled up. Each season I received imposing reminders to renew my membership, until I moved. This is the norm here, mailing lists can be bought and sold. We are all statistics that can be mined. Best thing if you don’t want to be disturbed is to keep out of form-filling programmes & events.

  175. 176 steve
    May 4, 2008 at 21:41

    I can’t imagine the problem with preserving history, though I could see issues if YOU owned the historical thing and couldn’t do what you wanted with your property. I have a huge problem with navies that scrap or sink ships, ships that should be turned into museums…

    I almost got sick watching the documentary about this ship being demolished to make a reef:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Oriskany_%28CV-34%29

    This ship should have been a museum:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Vanguard_%281944%29

    2 of these are going to become reefs, makes my blood boil:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrestal_class

  176. 177 Katharina in Ghent
    May 4, 2008 at 21:54

    Good night, everyone!

    ZK and Steve, you both did a great job, I’m sure Steve’s fingers must have been itching a few times 😉 This was probably the best Blank Page yet, most topics that have been started got at least some response.

    One last one @ Steve and animals: I love them, but I work with mice and regularly have to do nasty things with them. The only excuse I have is the sake of Science…

  177. 178 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 4, 2008 at 22:23

    Hi Jade,
    Thanks for your information. In The UK we have The Mail Preference Service and The Telephone preference Service. Both are free charities and stop junk mail and cold phone calls. Before I joined I used to put a rude letter in the prepaid envelopes asking them to stop contacting me. A certain American Credit Card Company contacted me with profuse apologies saying my details would be removed from all their databases. they warned it could take 4 MONTHS! I no longer get junk mail and only the occasional cold call if they originate outside The UK

    Today (Sunday!) a small bag containing a market research form came through the door. If I fill it in I get a box of chocolates tomorrow! It’s gone in the recycling bin and they will be told to “Go away”.

    I love animal but have no pets as I’m too impulsive. it would be unfare to them. I do eat meat but try to have 2 or 3 meat free days a week. Love cooking cos I love eating! I look 10 years pregnant.

    My house is 108 years old. Hopefully it will see me out. It has little historic value so I assume it will go one day. It is difficult to say what sites should be preserved. Old bricks are now used again. My house uses “stocks” If one day they are used in a new house something is preserved.

  178. 179 jade
    May 4, 2008 at 22:23

    @ Katharina, if you are still on, are you in genetic engineering?

  179. 180 selena
    May 4, 2008 at 23:18

    Kararina,

    I think you can love animals and still work with them in science. It is not as simple as we would like to think.

    Someone implied that we should not be eating meat (can’t remember who). But humans eat meat. It is what we do to survive. Some people can eat vegetables and make out alright but not everyone can. I have a friend who got really sick on a vegetarian diet.

    The question I would ask is why don’t we feel th same about all life? We seem to have a graduating scale. The bigger it is the more the right to protection. The cuter it is the more the right to protection.

    One of my family members is bothered when the cat kills a bird but is not bothered a bit about a field mouse or a shew. Others I know don’t mind raising animals for food but are against killing animals in the wild.

    I take the opposite view. Animals should not be mass produced in terrible conditions, for food. Animals raised in the wild live a good life until they are killed. That seems alright in terms of how life is arranged.

    Personally, I can’t hurt a mosquito. But I put the life of humans in front of all other life.

  180. 181 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 00:37

    Well, looks like everyone has fallen asleep. I’ll still periodically check in and moderate if anyone is still up. It has been fun.

  181. May 5, 2008 at 00:59

    Hi everyone. It has been fun indeed. Even more amazingly, as selena pointed out: no conflict here this weekend! Thanks everyone. Your comments are still welcome until Monday’s First Thing is posted/until we have our moderation rights removed.

    Thanks all.

  182. 183 Shirley
    May 5, 2008 at 01:04

    Hi, selena:
    You might have been referring to me, because I linked the consumption of meat with reduced availability of food for the destitute and hungry around the world. I actually advocated moderation in that post: our overconsumption of the world’s resources has left others out of the propvebial cornicopia. Personally, I prefer to eat vegan, but I do occasionally eat meat just to remind myself that it exists as a food source (especially on festival occasions).

  183. 184 Will Rhodes
    May 5, 2008 at 01:28

    Sorry for not being around so much this weekend – my son in the UK broke his arm so I have been busy mostly on the phone and getting things up on my blog.

    Well done you two, I have just read most of the posts and you have done a sterling job!

  184. 185 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 5, 2008 at 05:35

    For Will,

    i am sorry for your son regarding breaking his arm!

    Good Job, Steven and ZK!

    Ros will be proud of all of us….

  185. 186 Katharina in Ghent
    May 5, 2008 at 06:26

    @ jade:

    Yes, indeed, I make transgenic mice. Very fascinating stuff, but if there is a God (which I’m not sure) and he likes mice, then I’ll go to mouse hell – or get reborn a couple of times as a mouse.

  186. 187 John in Germany
    May 5, 2008 at 07:36

    Hi all.
    Have just finished reading the Blank Page, and need to re-clean my glasses 184 entries. Well done ZK a wealth of well moderated and interesting writing.

    John in Germany

  187. 188 pendkar
    May 5, 2008 at 10:39

    This is a late post. Work kept me occupied..

    About that actor minding the media outing him, he may not have a genuine grievance. Most of the pop artists sell their work on the basis of an aggreessively cultivated sex appeal. I wonder how many of them would well any records if there were no vedios htat go with the music. Young people buy nott just music, but complicated, nebulous sexual fantasy. They have a right to know that the object of their desire atleast belongs to the correct sexuality. If the artist had genuine talent, I suppose after furore dies down after a while, and they carry on as usual, with little damage.

    If you are talkiing about the discrimination factor in general, then I feel discrimination on the basis of sexuality is not the same

    as discrimination the basis of race or gender. This ingrained ‘prejudice’ may have a a vital function. It is common to hear arguments these days which say sexuality is determined by genes, and so there is nothing one can do but accept all variants. But there is no proof that this process isdeterministic. Evolution makes use of many factors. Where social factors exist, they are freely used. One would think that something as important as sexuality and species identity is hard coded into the genes. Those baby ducks in the lab are not hard coded to know that they are ducks and need to look out for mama duck as soon as they emerge from the shell. Nature leaves them with an imprinting mechanism (follwoing the first moving thing around) and leaves the rest to luck – most likely the first thing the baby duck sets its eyes on is the mama duck. Nature dint foresee the evolution of meddling naturalists.

    Something similar applies to humans too. We have genes that give us language and abstract thought. But the genes alone dont complete the work. One needs the all important factor of social influence. Heterosexual people invest a lot of effort in bearing and bringing up children, and one has to understand their desire that the children turn out heterosexual. They may have valid concerns about what living in a culture that is very accepting of homosexuality has on their children.

    It is a complex problem – balancing the need to give the homosexuals a normal life with the need to address the anxieties of the majority.

  188. 189 Ros Atkins
    May 5, 2008 at 12:03

    Steve and ZK you’ve raised the bar. A fantastic range of topics. It’s been a pleasure to read. Any takers for next weekend?

  189. May 5, 2008 at 13:38

    Guys, I’m sorry I missed out on this weekend 😦 I had TONS of yard work and work around the house to get done and was moving my office into another room 😦

    Looks like it was a great conversation!

  190. 191 Ros Atkins
    May 5, 2008 at 14:18

    Excuses excuses Brett. Much like the 60s, if you weren’t here you’ll never know…

  191. 192 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 5, 2008 at 14:34

    Hi Everybody,
    Thanks to Steve and ZK for an interesting weekend. Will hope your son recoveres soon. Bones are painful. Thanks to everyone else for your touching comments.

    “See” you all soon,

    peter UK

  192. 193 jade
    May 5, 2008 at 16:49

    @ Katharina,

    What genetic traits are you injecting (into the mice)? Is this for medicine?

    Sounds relevant to a big topic on this blog. BBC America showed a documentary on teen transexuals. The boy was born as a female in male body. How can Nature be so cruel? Environment does not have to mess he/she up. It’s done at the time of birth. My question is though, is there such a thing called female mind? What is the description?

  193. 194 Katharina in Ghent
    May 5, 2008 at 17:13

    @ jade

    Why don’t we discuss this on Blank page no. 6?

  194. May 5, 2008 at 17:20

    Well i gave my tuppenny’s worth, and managed to write a 4000 word dissertation chapter 😀

    As ros said in his email the bar was definately raised this weekend. Well done ZK and steve.

    @ Jade.
    I do think there is such a thing as a female brain, but that the female mind is not nescessarily a genetic trait. If we are (with a few genetic exceptions who are born with extra chromozones e.g XXY individuals who tend to look female, but have small inverted penis’s) born either male or female then our brains must be similarly programmed female or male.

    The mind is a bit more complex. In my estimation it is the part of us that controlls consciousness, and tells us to decided right from wrong. As a result it can be modified while we grow. A girl who grows up with lots of brothers and surrounded by men, is more likely to have a masculine mind since she will have been raised in a male environment.

    Re Burma.
    I wouldnt send the regime any money since i don’t believe it would go to the people who genuinely need it. I would put pressure on the regime to allow foriegn embassy staff in burma great flexibility on their travel arrangements, so they can work with charities to bring aid where it is most needed.

    @peter. You mentioned the tv drama/ film of the Naked Civil Servant. Well it has recently been announced they are to make the sequel to that drama, starting where the naked civil servant takes off. The actor who played quentin crisp in the last drama (for which he won a bafta) is to reprise his role.

    @Will
    Hope your son gets better.

    @steve. if you want to discuss the preservation of ships, you should look into the madness which is the free for all salvage taken from the titanic. As a result of the film, individuals forget that it actually a mass grave, but instead popularise it, and dress up as people who were aboard the ship. (you think i am kidding look into the titanic society of america’s annual conventions)

    lxxx

  195. 196 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 17:39

    @ Jade

    I would think transgendered people are the best examples of self loathing there could possibly be. But I think it’s also a construct of modern society. Do you think there were any gender confused cavemen? kind of like how they didn’t have anorexia back then. It’s mostly an affliction of the privileged. But how much do you have to hate yourself, and not accept yourfself for who you are, than to have your genitals removed?

    I think giving people sex change operations, giving them horomone treatment only enables this serious, serious mental problem. There can be no denying, that gender confusion is the result of serious mental problem, and by “treating” it by giving them what they want, you only enable it. Giving someone a sex change or hormone treatment is like giving a feather to an anorexic so they can make themselves vomit. Why do we enable this, rather than get people to accept them for who they are? Newsflash, if you have a penis, you are a male.

  196. 197 Jens
    May 5, 2008 at 17:53

    @steve,

    over 6′3, makes over $300,000, and an English accent. There aren’t many men that fit that criteria here!

    lucky me i fit two of the three….

    seriously, i think some people have just too high an expectation, be it males or females. i know guys who expectations, that can only be fullfilled with a lot of silicone or saline…..

  197. 198 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 18:07

    @ Jens

    Yes, you probably would love life here in DC, though you’d still have to spend an arm and a leg of them… I don’t know many men that have such high standards though. Normally it’s just “not fat, not a princess”.

  198. 199 jade
    May 5, 2008 at 19:21

    @ Hannah,

    Do you mean left or right brain inclined, rather than male or female brain? Actually, in this line of discussion, I read a research report that female brains seem more developed, more balanced in usage; and when aging, females remain more alert when compared with males who tend to use only one side of their brains. Left or right brain can be inherited, can also be nurtured through training, like a girl who grows up with only brothers and a boy with only sisters that affected their feminine and masculine personality. The mind is like will power, complex but also nurturable. I think a person is more nurture than nature.

  199. August 23, 2008 at 18:26

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