Posts Tagged ‘cynicism


My lucky day…

On the other side of the card is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This fancy-schmancy laminated ticket (that I found on a subway bench, natch) is copyrighted and courtesy of Now, I asked myself, what could CTA, Inc. mean? Christian Tactics Abound? Nah, it wasn’t that good…it’s actually Christian Tools for Affirmation. But they have a gosh-darn catchy tag line “Purposeful Products to help you encourage God’s people” (or to help you find wayward souls on subway platforms). Anywho, there’s lots of interesting goodies on their website, including Valentines from Jesus, which you can all expect in your mailbox next month.


What this ad is really saying: Episode 2 (“Sex Sells….Beanbags!”)

You know, traveling without the internet really forces you to go back to those “older” mediums, like print. I had a nice stash o’ magazines with me on my travels and that provided an awful lot of fodder for this recurring series.

These two ads appeared separately in the classified section of Wired magazine. One on each side of the page.

Here’s what they say to me:

Dudes: Do you like chilling out comfortably on some plushy bean-filled furniture? Then this is the deal for you! Kick back, relax, plug in that Xbox and settle in for an evening of total veg out fun. Wasssup!

Dudettes: Do you like straddling beanbag furniture? Love to give your best “come-hither” look no matter where you are? Wouldn’t messing around on a bean bag just be like, so way cool?!?! You know you weren’t even thinking about chillaxing on this baby, no no no, it’s all how sexay you can look on a pile of styrofoam beans and fake suede. Rrrarrrr baby!


I’m just sayin’.


“Representative” Democracy?

In my stellar American Government class, I remember learning that the U.S. is technically a “representative democracy” meaning we don’t vote on every decision or issue, rather we elect officials to do that stuff for us (that way we can, you know, continue producing and consuming. or at least consuming). The ever ubiquitous balance to this check was that elected officials would have to be accountable (to an extent) to their constituents.

Why, then, won’t Congress listen? A record number of states have rejected abstinence-only education funds. Rejected. This brings the number up to 14 states who have rejected funds, or at least made themselves ineligible by saying they would use the funds for comprehensive sex education. In true spin fashion, the DHHS responded by saying that it is concerning because these are valuable programs and it’s really the youth who will lose out. I’m sorry Mr. Bureaucrat, what’s so wrong with comprehensive sex-ed? We’ve seen how well abstinence-only is working…

Ever the logical respondent, Congress is considering increasing abstinence-only funds to over $204 million. Eschewing scientific data is one thing, now let’s just completely ignore the needs of our constituents, most notably those who aren’t even of voting age and most in need of protection and education.

How truly apropos that my Dad included this comic in my latest care package…


Bait and Switch?

A caveat before I begin: I’m thankful that the NYPD keeps me feeling safe in this city. No, seriously, I am. I don’t like all the hullabaloo with snipers and AK-47s outside of the Empire State Building, but in terms of my day-to-day activities, I feel relatively safe in New York City. And I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself.

But the latest shenanigans by the “Boys in Blue” has me a wee bit wary. NYPD has revamped a program where undercover cops leave decoy wallets, purses, and shopping bags in subway stations and stores (i.e. Macy’s) and arrest anyone who picks up the item and walks past a uniformed cop without returning it. The goal is to arrest hairy-eyed n’er-do-wells who are aiming to take off with some loot. But the result? More often than not it appears good samaritans are the ones most likely to suffer unwarranted (pardon the pun) police harassment. The common story seems to be that someone, no doubt a regular 9-5er rushing to catch their train, spots an abandoned item, scoops it up for further examination (i.e. to find an address or receipt to return to owner or store, respectively), hops on the train (without realizing a cop is nearby, after all they are a dime a dozen and we’ve become so sensitized to their presence), then gets hauled off the train, frisked, and asked about prior arrests.

The program, introduced over a year ago, was quickly discredited by judges and prosecutors alike for a number of reasons, mainly that a person has ten days to turn in lost items and, secondly, that nothing in the legalese requires a person to return an article to a uniformed police officer.

So, the cops reworked their program and recently reinstated it. Now the decoys are “laced” with actual credit cards issued under cops’ aliases. Pick that baby up and you could spend 4 years upstate.

Oh and this beast has a name: “Operation Lucky Bag.”

Now for my opinion: I find this simply abhorrent. I mean, seriously. There’s a lot more shit going down in Gotham that needs some attention above and beyond petty larceny. But aside from that, it seems simply ludicrous that police can “bait” innocent civilians into “performing” what they interpret to be a criminal offense. In fact, the ONLY thing that allows the cops to arrest someone is if they perceive that the person had no intention of returning the goods. And, you could argue that they are reducing subway crime with programs such as this. In fact, go ahead (they argue they reduced subway crime by 13% — but we’re all in hypotheticals here). But the numbers suggest otherwise. Although there were 101 arrests made in the original program by

people who had a combined number of 716 prior offenses, there were 119 arrests made of individuals with no prior record. And, if we are going to really debate the issue, every single one of them was perfectly innocent, regardless of their record, and would have remained so had the officer not placed the decoy where they would see it.

At its best it is like holding a shot of Jack in front of the alcoholic and carting them off to rehab for simply picking up the drink. At its worst it is ensnaring innocent everyday folks in a web of legal troubles that will no doubt effect their occupational, emotional, and interpersonal lives for years to come.

In the words of my not-so-favorite-but-highly-appropos-looney-tunes-character:


Teen Pregnancy: “It’s Not Rocket Science”

So, I’ve got a super Dad who supports my feministing. He probably gets a kick out of having a bit of a spitfire (albeit a mildly passive-aggressive spitfire) in the family who no doubt resembles his own ideals at a similar point in life. So he sends me articles that will intrigue, irritate (usually because they are about Bush), or irk me because he knows that, deep down inside, I’ve got a little curmudgeon just bustin’ out.

The latest article falls into the latter two categories. Oh, right, and it makes me irate, just to stick with the theme.

Shocker of the century: Births to teen mothers have risen for the first time since 1991. While the rest of us who either have vaginas or know anything about anything are jumping up and down in exasperation and frustration at the administration for lopping off comprehensive sex education in favor of unproven abstinence-only programs, the republicans are scratching their heads in a bit of confusion (see illustration below).

And the spin machine gets to work: “U.S. health officials said it was possibly a one-year statistical blip and not the beginning of a new upward trend.”

So, when your 15 year old daughter starts donning baggy clothes and you catch sight of a bit of a pooch you can just say “oh, honey, looks like you’ve got a little blip!” (There were an additional 20,000 blips born to teenage mothers in 2006.)

Interestingly enough, this “blip” coincides with similar “blips” for a few STI rates as well. Now, I know my stats and I know correlation is not causation, but I also know that trends are usually a sign of an underlying phenomena.

Which is why my new hero for the day is Dr. Carol Hogue, a researcher at Emory who, when asked to comment regarding the latest statistics said, “It’s not rocket science.”

Indeed, it isn’t rocket science. But in case any GOP officials need any help figuring out the whole equation I’ll lend a hand:

Abstinence-only “education” + Hormones + Hormones + Desire + No access to contraceptives + No condoms + Being taught that condoms don’t work = Unintended Teenage Pregnancy Rate Increase.

But my hunch is that there’s even a larger story here, one that will probably spawn (no pun intended) a movie, book, and made-for-tv miniseries in the next fifty years: the young women who find themselves willing to risk anything to not let their parents find out they are pregnant — whether by crossing state lines, inducing an abortion, or seeking back-alley abortions. Or, an even more subtle but damaging force: young men and women who are unable to understand how their desires can be explored in ways both safe and health.

On a related note: “Juno” is getting rave reviews for telling the story of a young woman who is pregnant while keeping the people and the drama front and center and the politics out of the picture. Interestingly, this is similar to the raves I heard about (but haven’t yet watched) “Knocked Up.”


A Surplus of Status

I’ll admit that I’m mildly disturbed by how pervasive Facebook has become in my daily life. Most notably I find myself constantly thinking, “Ha, that would make a nice status message.” And since today has been such a busy day (even without leaving the apartment!) I’ll provide you with the following.

Valerie is:

– addressing holiday cards and listening to “v-fu christmas volume 1” courtesy of JPR.

– pretty sure she annoyed JPR this sunday (and the last 13 sundays) by asking a series of questions along the lines of “But in football, why don’t they ______?”

– certain she’ll never understand football.

– not happy with her cats for knocking over her perfectly delightful little christmas tree at 6:45 this morning…but surprised that it took 10 days before it finally hit the floor.

– finding it amusing that she and JPR won’t actually play scrabble using an actual game board but will play scrabble on facebook’s “scrabulous” program while being 5-10 feet apart.

– happy that it snowed today, but not sure she’ll be able to move the car tomorrow because she is scared of ice.

– wondering if lynette scavo’s family is alive after a tornado hit wysteria lane because even though she hasn’t watched DH since season 1 that blood-curtling scream by a talented felicity huffman had her interest piqued enough to tune in for the last half hour. and she’s also proud of susan for putting her foot down. and also noticing how every primetime family drama is now taking up the issue of addiction to painkillers…at least among rich white people.

– absolutely terrifed about the new show premiering in january that uses lie detectors and forces people to tell secrets on national television.

– disturbed that reality tv and “game” shows can get away with social science that legit social scientists could never ethically do.

– wishing she could bake a batch of Noa’s delicious pumpkin cookies.

– aware that making a New Year’s resolution last year to do holiday cards this year is pretty silly but justifies it because: a) it’s best to start small and b) most resolutions are abandoned within the first three weeks, and this one is immune to that!

– ooo, eee, ooo-ah-ah, ting, tang, walla-walla-bing-bang.


the good, the bad, and the fugly

Well, I’ve been home for a good three days now. I ventured out once to “teach” (and by teach I mean supervise small-group work with what little voice I have left), and today to pick up some copies and accompany JPR to his first “Freedom” haircut (Freedom is my stylist and she is Freenomenal).

I’ve come to the following conclusions: 1) Strep throat SUCKS (those little buggers to the right is currently wreaking havoc on my throat); 2) I don’t need Nostradamus to tell me civilization is coming to an end, a few hours of MTV is enough to tell me that; 3) Law and Order is ciminally addictive (pun intended) but I may have found a fatal flaw.

First of all: MTV.

Oi, what can I say? I turned it on during a brief Law and Order hiatus on USA Network and watched a few episodes of “Made” followed by “Next.” Now, if you were a previous reader of the old LRC then you know I’m a fan of Made. Let’s face it: adolescence sucks. MTV acknowledges it (though not the extent to which they make it suck even more by pushing products and images on that vulnerable population) and throws a little money toward lowly and inadequate teens to help them spruce themselves up against. It’s the basic triumph over adversity; how could I dislike that? They provide a forum for Tariq Nasheed (author of “The Art of Mackin” and “Play or Be Played”) to help out the adorably awkward acne-prone and bespectacled self-proclaimed geek lose 40 lbs and get a date for the prom. A few products are pimped, jokes are made at the geek’s expense, he gets a makeover, a self-esteem boost, and all is right with the high-school world. I have no beef.

But what follows these wonderful examples of persistence and determination: god-awful drivel, that’s what. A few episodes of “Next” will have you scratching your head and actually considering supporting Eugenics if it shifts its focus to plastic bimbettes and meatheads. The basic premise is that a single guy or gal has five potential dates selected for them. One by one, the dates emerge from the Next bus to meet the hopeful singleton. They are timed for how long they last on the date, eventually they get “Nexted” and the date is over and they move to the next person — but they get $1 for each minute they last. And if the guy or gal likes them and offers them a second date (usually after about an hour or so), they can either have the second date or take the money and run (approx $60-70). Between this show and “Parental Control” I basically want to bury my head in the sand. I’m no fool, I know most of this stuff is made up and that the writers come up with have the shite they say, but really. It’s absurd. They are extremely vulgar and insult each other in such horrible ways. The guys are only concerned about T&A and whether she’s gonna be able to handle their “wood” and I can’t even figure out what the girls are about. Plastic, that’s it.

It’s just awful.

Now for my second observation. I love Law and Order. Criminal Intent, SVU, you name it, I love it. And Vincent D’Onofrio is just spectactular. I now affectionately refer to him as “Sherlock F*@&#in D’Onofrio.” However, I started to notice a disturbing trend that began with Cynthia Nixon’s guest appearance on the season opener of SVU. She played a person suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder who killed her parents as retribution for years of severe childhood abuse. However, at turns out she was faking it. What upset me initially was that psychology (and my dear BD Wong) got the shaft. But after watching a few more episodes, I began to notice that a number of the culprits tend to be crazy psycho bitches.

So I am wondering if there’s a potential feminist rant here, or if I’m being oversensitive. After all, Casey Novak is one hell of a DA and has Judith Light as her boss, so there’s some prime examples of women rockin’ it. And perhaps they are just capitalizing on our fears. After all, don’t we expect women to be motherly and protective? Therefore, when they kill, it might be easier or expected to portray them as manipulative and/or psychotic. I’m really not sure. And, I did notice that a number of the men (the few that I’ve seen so far) who are the ultimate culprit end up being weak and pathetic, which would be the counter-stereotype for the male figure. So perhaps that’s all there is to the story. My verdict remains to be determined. I’m at about the 34-minute mark of an hour episode: I’ve noticed a trend, begun gathering evidence, and am awaiting the inevitable plot twist. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong.

July 2018
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