Thursday, September 27, 2007

Celebrity smooches criminalized in India

Maybe we could learn a thing or two.

At an AIDS awareness event in April, Richard Gere embraced Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty and gave her several kisses on the cheek. Arrest warrants were promptly issued for the both of them on charges of violating "anti-obscenity" laws. I don't think you have to be hindu to be a bit weirded out by having now 52 year-old Richard Gere smooching on you in public after saying "no condom, no sex" in hindi to the crowd.

But if kisses on the cheek are considered obscene, how in the world did they manage to televise an AIDS awareness event?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Update: Gays in Iran

Turns out there might be some after all!

Ahmadinejad at Columbia-in Support of Lee Bollinger

Short Version

Yesterday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. A previous speech that was to take place last year was canceled for "security and logistical reasons."

The President of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, and the rest of Columbia University came under scorching criticism for allowing the controversial leader to speak.

"I didn't expect Lee Bollinger to say Ahmadinejad is a moderate or he's been misunderstood," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. "The forum he provided is the issue. He and his university gave this hate monger an opportunity to speak on one of the most prestigious stages in all the world." (From AP via Yahoo).
I, for one, applaud the decision. I believe that bad ideas are like vampires; they don't survive exposure to light. I only saw clips of his speech here, but I thought it was interesting. When confronted with his "denial" of the holocaust, he said that he didn't deny it happened, only that he disagreed with what had happened to the middle east since, and that the holocaust did not justify the displacement of the Palestinians (i.e., the creation of the state of Israel).

Fair Point. You might not agree with it, but it's a fair point.

My favorite part though, was when he was asked about homosexuals in his country. Ahmadinejad denied that ANY homosexuals existed in Iran. The crowd erupted in laughter, as I would. In that one instant, he was transformed from some diabolical world leader into just a bigot in denial. And THAT is the power of the free-exchange of ideas.

I don't think Lee Bollinger's introduction (wherein he called some of Ahmadinejad's ideas "ridiculous" and the man himself a "petty and cruel dictator") was really appropriate given that he was the moderator, as opposed to an opponent in a debate. However, given the amount of negative publicity about his decision to even allow Ahmadinejad to speak, I understand why he chose to lead with how he disagreed with the man, but that he still allowed him to speak.

So I agree with Ahmadinejad's rebuke that it wasn't really appropriate to introduce a speaker in a way to immediately put him on the defensive and that the students should make up their own mind. He called this "Iranian tradition." I think a few political prisoners and former newspaper owners who would disagree that it is Iranian tradition to allow free speech.

Ahmadinejad also took spontaneous questions from the audience. Something I wish OUR president (who was so quick to criticize the University's decision to allow the Iranian President to speak) would do. Cuz I think our President has some pretty stupid ideas that I wish would see the light of day in an open forum.

So again, in allowing him this forum, a lot of this man's ideas, that would otherwise stay hidden behind unchallenged statements in other forums, come to light. I just found the whole thing on Youtube, so I'm going to watch it all for context I think:

Long Version

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 1: Wow, that's a lot of God talk. I guess this shows the big difference between our two cultures. I think he's trying to be relevant to Christianity? Some of this "science and religion are able to co-exist" talk sound sort of similar to christian fundamentalist yet apologetic creationists.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part2: Oh man, more God stuff? This is why I don't go to church, mosque, or temple. No wonder the highlights from this were so short. Science is illuminating? Didn't he say this already? Oh God, this is painful.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part3: Ok, I agree that Bush's wiretapping domestic citizens does create fear, but this is coming from the guy who runs a country that shuts down opposition newspapers and arrests people for their political views. Now he's talking about the misuse of science and alluding to nuclear capabilities. I think I know where this is going....

Ahmadinejad Speech Part4: Here it is. The nuclear powers have strayed from science and the teaching of the profits by not allowing countries to develop nuclear capability. Palestinian refugees were created by the creation of Israel. ooh, here we go.... He did say that the holocaust was a "historical event" so I don't know how people can say that he "denies" its existence. He says he wants to research it from "different angles." Not sure what that means. Now he says he wants to study its "root causes," that's fair. And now why should the Palestinians pay the price for the holocaust when they didn't have anything to do with it? I think that is a fair point.

Iran is a member of the IAEA and now he's citing their bi-laws and saying their reports say that Iran is pursuing peaceful nuclear energy. I don't think the IAEA agrees with that.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 5: Now he is making it an issue of independence and self-determination. Now questions: "Do you seek the destruction of Israel?" Answer: "We love all nations" and how jews live in Iran and are represented in the government. But he says Palestinians have the right to self-determination. But the interviewer wants a yes or no answer. Ahmadinejad bristles and says that now the moderator wants to hear the answer he wants to hear, and retorts with his own "Is the Palestinian issue not an international issue of prominence? Yes or no?"

Now, in response to whether Iran supports terrorists, he says that Iran is actually a victim of terrorism.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 6: Now, "why do you want to research the holocaust more?" He answers, "why do you want to stop?" "I'm not saying it didn't happen"

Now a question about Iranian women and their rights. "Women in Iran enjoy the highest degree of freedom." Wow. "There are hundreds of women scientists in the biotechnology field." Wow, hundreds.

"We don't have homosexuals in our country" BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

"It's not a crime to be a women" Uh oh, this is getting bad.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 7: Question about the nuclear program. What are you seeking? Only to provide fuel to power plants. He again accuses the world powers of wanting to monopolize science. Not much more.

Moderator makes one last quip about how Ahmadinejad didn't have time to answer some questions, and didn't answer some of the questions posed to him. Wow, that never happens here. I think that was a rather lame an ungracious last word to get in.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Had to Share

I think you have to be sort of an internet dork to get these, but good lord they're hilarious.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Pick-Up Artist: Episode...uh...I don't know....the one with the strippers

In this week's episode, Mystery sends the three remaining boys to a strip club in an attempt to pick up on strippers.

While I've always found this show bordering on the inappropriate, I think this crosses the line. When I put on my "dude" helmet, I understand the logic here. Strippers are like asymptotes. You can get really close to them, but you can never touch them. They are unattainable. They have probably seen every trick in the book.

BUT, these are also women who do this for a living. This is their job. How they feed themselves is by taking off their clothes. Regardless what you think of this, I think it is really disrespectful to walk in here and do as Mystery said "Keep your money in your pockets." That's why the women are here, to make money, not to deal with your cheap ass. Ugh. Ok, I'm really done with this show now.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Pick for AG Less Likely To Take Advantage of People Doped Up in Hospital

Today dubya nominated retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey as Gonzo's successor at the top of the Department of Justice. Most of the articles I have read paint him as a "compromise" choice and a concession to Democrats and all those critical of the Britney Spear's VMA performance that this administration has become (analogy shamelessly stolen from Jezebel).

While I agree that he seems to be less bat shit crazy, I'm not totally sold. As a federal judge, he did seem to adhere to the constitution. He is also the judge that signed the material witness warrant of Joseph Padilla and was involved with his case while it was in New York. At one point during that case, he siding with Padilla over the government.

Since he has retired, however, he has not hesitated to wax poetic (see op ed piece here) about how the war on terror merits different standards for criminal convictions and how our system is not prepared for this on-going struggle. For example, at one point in his op ed, he said:

On one end of the spectrum, the rules that apply to routine criminals who pursue finite goals are skewed, and properly so, to assure that only the highest level of proof will result in a conviction. But those rules do not protect a society that must gather information about, and at least incapacitate, people who have cosmic goals that they are intent on achieving by cataclysmic means.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is said to have told his American captors that he wanted a lawyer and would see them in court. If the Supreme Court rules--in a case it has agreed to hear relating to Guantanamo detainees--that foreigners in U.S. custody enjoy the protection of our Constitution regardless of the place or circumstances of their apprehension, this bold joke could become a reality.
(emphasis added).
So it seems that when he did adhere to constitutional standards in his courtroom he did it somewhat begrudgingly. Which, to be sure, is an improvement. But now that he is a position of a policy maker, I don't think he will exhibit the same impartiality he once had as a trial judge. While he seems competent (again, an improvment), I do not believe that he really is a concession to democrats or will significantly change the administration's stance on the war on terror.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Humor Is Elusive

I think it was Gilda Radner who once said something to the extent that comedy is truth a moment before expected. That said, I don't know why this is so funny to me but it is.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Go Bears!

I haven't been in college in 10 years for a short while, but when I went to the Cal v. Tennessee game last weekend, I had a near orgasmic experience. Beating a good SEC team after that loss last year and all of the smack over the summer. Ahhhh. Sweet sweet come uppins.

I don't know why they are calling this a blow out, because it wasn't. This game was anyone's until the fourth quarter. The Tennessee fans were good sports and fun to hang around with after the game, so cheers, and good luck guys! Tell you what, if you take care of LSU, maybe we can do something about the University of Spoiled Children. Deal?

DeSean Jackson is something else, and if Jahvid Best runs that well as a freshman. Good lord. He's going to be one to watch.

Now an unranked Oregon dismantled Michigan, UCLA beat BYU, and Washington finally ended Boise's win streak. Before I was arguing that the Pac-10 is a strong conference. Now I'm afraid that I was right. Cal and that other school down in Compton have their work cut out for them.