Posts tagged ‘Osama bin Laden’


Cover of "Towelhead"

Cover of Towelhead

Towelhead is the unfortunate title of a 2007 movie written and directed by Alan Ball (Cybill, American Beauty, Six Feet Under). The movie is based on a novel of the same title and concerns a 13 year old girl who is experiencing puberty and her own sexual awakening at roughly the same time. The story has a theme of racism, but it’s not the predominant theme.

Jasira is living with her mother and experiencing ridicule by classmates because she is developing. As such, she has hair at her bikini line. Because her mother has forbidden her from shaving, the kids tease her mercilessly. So, mom’s live in boyfriend volunteers to shave her himself. And this is where the fun begins because Jasira’s mother kicks her out to live with her father.

Is she trying to protect her daughter? You be the judge. She tells her daughter that this is her fault for how she acts around men. And also, of course, because she doesn’t watch how she dresses in her own home.

Jasira’s father isn’t any better. He backhands her on her first morning there for coming to the breakfast table in a pajama top that displays her midriff. He forbids her to wear tampons. He also doesn’t allow shaving or makeup. He finds himself a Greek girlfriend through his work at NASA. He lets the girlfriend put makeup on Jasira but tells her to wash it off before he even backs out of the driveway. This is the first of many nights and weekends that she will spend alone because her father is with his girlfriend.

Jasira begins babysitting for a neighbor boy. They find his father’s stash of pornographic magazines, which he hasn’t taken the trouble to hide very well. The father comes home early one day and catches the two of them going through his porn.

The neighbor promises not to tattle to her father, but then he wants her to sit down next to him, asks her if she likes to look at the magazines, and tells her that she has to “pay a toll” to get past him. She makes it out without paying the toll, but this is inappropriate behavior for any grown man toward a 13 year old girl, let alone a married man with his own family. If you feel sick already, then stop watching here ‘cause it just gets worse.

The neighbor takes her out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant while her father and his family are gone for the weekend. He’s a reservist, and the movie is set in Houston during the Persian Gulf War. He tells her he’s been called up and that he really needs to be with her before he leaves. She has sex with him and is then surprised to see him pulling into his driveway the very next day.

Eventually, Jasira, who also begins a sexual relationship with an African American boy her own age, is befriended by a pregnant neighbor lady. The neighbor lady buys Jasira an age appropriate book about sex and puberty and gives Jasira a key to her home. When Jasira’s father finds one of the creepy pedophile’s porno magazines in her room, he beats her in the car on the drive home, and Jasira runs to the home of the neighbor woman.

When we see Jasira’s father drive her to the hospital to be with the neighbor woman as she delivers her child, we think things just might turn out alright for Jasira. Along the way, she’s learned to stand up for herself, and she turns in her neighbor for statutory rape.

Towelhead is a sad movie. It was probably a sad novel as well. It’s disturbing to watch, and if you have a little crush on Aaron Eckhart you should probably skip it since this movie will definitely kill it for you.

The movie misses the mark with its message, for while it does give Jasira the ability to find her voice to say no, it doesn’t cause her to understand that she’s too young to appropriately deal with the consequences of her sexual actions. She makes her boyfriend wear a condom, but I doubt if a girl who’s so sheltered, with limited friendships, could deal with the inevitable breakup that will happen one day. Jasira isn’t mature enough yet to be having sex, and the pathetic thing is that it’s her own immaturity that also causes her to be unable to recognize this fact about herself.

June 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm 2 comments

Who Is Innocent?

Anti-Death Penalty crusader Sister Helen Prejean

Image via Wikipedia

People like Pete DeGraaf anger me, people who are so narrow-minded as to see only their own viewpoint on any given subject and to be wholly convinced that their side is the righteous one. Smart people know that there are two sides to every war. Which side is the “good” one is sometimes a random designation made decades later by history books and determined in large part by military might and strategy.

I like to think that if I were ever pregnant as the result of a rape that I would give birth to that baby. I do think that would be the right thing to do, but to be told that I have no choice in the matter and to have a pregnancy from a rape be equated with the inconvenience of a flat tire or paying for life insurance…just goes to show you that DeGraaf thinks that being raped is one of those inevitabilities of life that a woman should be prepared for. It sickens me that anyone with so little empathy or compassion for women would dare to call himself a representative of Christ. Somewhere in Heaven, God is vomiting right now.

The thing that I find the saddest about people like DeGraaf is that when you ask them why they are so vehemently opposed to choice, they always mention, of course, that abortion is murder. They say that they are opposed to any taking of life that’s not done by God. They believe in the sanctity of life. And you ask them about assisted suicide. The answer they give seems consistent. But ask them about the death penalty or ask them about war…you’ll get a very different answer.

I don’t want to get into the particulars of a debate about war and the ethics of war. I don’t have enough time to address it in this blog post except to say that “this” war (Iraq & Afghanistan) on “terrorism” is not anymore ethical than the one we lost in Vietnam. This is to say…that it isn’t. We have no business being there. And yet a guy like DeGraaf I can say with absolute certainty, supports the “War on Terrorism” and would question my very patriotism for daring to examine America’s real motivations.

I’m also certain that a guy like DeGraaf backs the death penalty. I haven’t spent any time looking at his website or his voting record, and yet I can tell you with absolute certainty, that DeGraaf believes in the death penalty as if there were Bible verses that support it. That’s ‘cause I’m psychic like that…either that or DeGraaf is a walking, breathing, talking caricature of a certain cretin of American zombies who think alike about everything.

Okay. There are Bible verses that seemingly support the death penalty. I’ll give you that. But there are Bible verses that seem to support slavery as well. I’ve got a brain. I can think. And when a man who says abortion is murder and says that he believes in the “sanctity of all life” also supports the death penalty and the War For Our Gas Tanks, then I call Bullshit! I call Hypocrite!

When you get into a debate with one of these people they inevitably mention that it’s a question of innocence. An unborn baby is innocent. A convicted murderer is not. A jihadist is not. But how do we determine innocence? An unborn baby that’s the product of incest ruins the life and future of a 9 year old girl who’s been raped by her father. That’s not the baby’s fault, or is it? If you hurt someone by accident, then have you hurt them less than if you did it by malicious intent?

I’m not trying to call into question the innocence of an unborn baby. Not seriously. But the people who are working to take away a woman’s choice are saying that pregnancies that result from rape or incest are only 10% or less of total unplanned pregnancies. Some estimates claim 1% or less. They want to take away a woman’s right to choose because less than 1% of unplanned pregnancies are the result of rape. What if 1% of people on death row are innocent? How does DeGraaf feel about the death penalty then?

I’ve read recently about some people who are making some headway towards eradicating the death penalty. One of them is Danalynn Recer, a mitigator in Houston, Texas. She was written up in The New Yorker. The work she’s doing involves presenting mitigating circumstances to juries in the penalty phases of capital murder cases. Simply put, she makes the perpetrators seem like human beings. She tells their life stories leading up to their monstrous crimes.

In addition to the work of mitigators, the death penalty has taken some hits recently because of The Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is a non-profit group based out of New York City that has worked with convicted men across the United States to use DNA evidence in order to exonerate innocent men who were wrongfully imprisoned. In many cases it has prevented innocent men from being executed.

I used to be staunchly opposed to the death penalty. I’m a little more open minded recently. You might ask why. And I would say Osama bin Laden. While I absolutely feel that the Christian response at someone’s death is not to take to the streets and rejoice, I realize that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with killing him. One of bin Laden’s sons and some of the more bleeding heart liberal of my countrymen have come forward with questions on why we didn’t take bin Laden into custody and put him on trial.

And I know why…because it’s pointless. He’s the mastermind behind 9/11. He’s taken credit for it. And even if he were to receive a trial…where would it be held? How would he receive a fair trial? Where would we find a “jury of his peers” beyond a terrorist training camp in some rural Pakistani village, and then…would justice prevail?

So, what I will say about the death penalty is this, that like with abortion, I believe that it should be safe, legal and extremely rare. Maybe in the case of the death penalty, I should say humane, legal and extremely rare. Most European nations and developed countries no longer practice the death penalty. These other countries tend to have significantly lower rates of violent crime than the United States does.

And so, I think that we need to realize that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. Maybe something about it satisfies our need for vengeance. An eye for an eye. But what most people don’t realize about that particular Bible quote is that it was not a prescription for violence but rather a limitation that was meant to instill a sense of fairness. You take my eye, I take your eye – not, rather, you take my eye, and I take your eye, your house, and your entire flock of goats. It was a restriction on the inevitable escalation of violence.

Something about our society perpetuates violence. We need to take a good, hard look at just what that is. And maybe, in the meantime, we should limit death penalty cases to extreme cases of genocide, mass murder, war crimes, and treason.

If you’re interested in learning more about the death penalty in the United States, then I recommended the websites I’ve linked to as well as the following movies, books, and television programs:

Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean, as well as the movie of the same name that was based on the book.

I Want to Live – the 1958 tearjerker based on the real-life story of Barbara Graham boasts an over-the-top performance by Susan Hayward. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 100% Fresh rating.

Death Be Not Proud – This is a 2005 episode of the David E. Kelley produced Boston Legal. In the episode, James Spader’s Alan Shore travels to Texas to try a capital murder case. Kerry Washington guest stars.

June 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm 7 comments

Buy Jesse James’ Book, Get Bonus Free Ticket to Hell

Jesse James pauses for his wife Sandra Bullock...

Image via Wikipedia

At the risk of seeming shallow I am going to write two posts in a row about celebrity gossip items. This time I’m going to harp on Jesse James again. He’s just written an “autobiography,” and the publicity whore is going on any talk show that will have him in order to promote it. You can bet the book was actually written by a ghostwriter. I’m not giving you the name of the book because I don’t want WordPress to link to it, and also because I don’t want to give him any more free publicity than this rant is already giving him.

Yes, I’m going to say it. If you buy Jesse James’ book, you are going straight to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. I don’t care if you read free excerpts on the internet or if you glance through it at your pathetic friend’s house, but, by God, do not give that creep any of your hard earned cash!

This guy is a POS. I am embarrassed that I live in Austin. Can’t he just move back to LA where his kind of douchebag so naturally flourishes? Please?

We all know that the real reason that he moved out here had absolutely nothing to do with any stepmothering and absolutely everything to do with winning back Sandy. Unfortunately for him, Sandy doesn’t like eating shit. So, he got shot down. Now he’s bitter about it

Within a matter of a few short months he’s engaged to his new best friend, Kat von D, another trashy, tattoo covered second rate reality show celebrity like himself. That’s because his love for Sandy was so constant, unwavering, and eternal. Kat will also sell her soul to the highest bidder for some publicity, going on the Dr. Drew show to discuss how much Jesse’s changed. Honey, he hasn’t changed. He just hasn’t had enough time to show his true colors. Just wait ‘til he asks you what kind of bread you like on your shit sandwich. Those two deserve each other, though. She also has a history of cheating.

Here’s what I don’t understand about Jesse James. He says he’s written this book so that America will be more sympathetic toward him. He wants us to be able to relate and to understand that any marriage involves two people. It takes two people to make it work and two people to make it fail. He also wants us to know that the sex scandal caused by his numerous infidelities was more hurtful for him than it was for his wife.

Really? Jesse, are you absolutely certain about that? You think your wife wasn’t privately devastated AND publicly humiliated by YOUR selfish actions? He says that he doesn’t want to blame Sandra Bullock, but actually, that’s exactly what he is doing. He’s saying he never believed Sandra loved him and that he felt trapped in the marriage and that being unfaithful was a way to assert his independence. Huh. You couldn’t just join a bowling league or do some fantasy football? And if you felt like you were never yourself around Sandra and that if you had been yourself that she wouldn’t have loved you, just how exactly is that HER fault? I fail to see the logic.

You know what else Jesse’s saying? He says that he can’t worry about Sandy anymore because he worried constantly about what she thought and felt for the 5 years that they were married. I think the problem was that he didn’t think enough about Sandy’s feelings. Because if he’d thought about anyone besides himself, then he and Sandy would still be married.

He’s continuing to be the same douchebag he’s always been. He won’t ever change. And Sandy was smart enough to get out from under that albatross. This book and his interviews, including a tacky trip to the Howard Stern show where he confirms that Kat von D is a “100%” better lover than Sandra Bullock, are clear evidence that Jesse James has all the emotional maturity of a flea.

I read a commentary about all this shit on the internet where the writer said basically that Jesse James was using this opportunity to further humiliate Sandra Bullock. I beg to differ. Jesse James is not humiliating anyone but himself. Sandra has had the class to remain silent and respectful of a man who doesn’t deserve the consideration.

Jesse, do yourself a favor. Hire a PR rep. Get someone to help you keep your big mouth shut. Because if you thought you were the most hated man in America before your book came out, you were definitely wrong. However, since Osama bin Laden’s death coincides with your book tour, I think you just might have earned that title now.

May 6, 2011 at 11:04 pm 3 comments

The Jevons Paradox

Microgeneration Certification Scheme

Image via Wikipedia

Recently, I was reading an article in The New Yorker about the ecology and the green movement in the United States. This article mentioned an economic principle that apparently has been around since long before my time. I’d never heard of it, probably because I didn’t study economics in school. It’s called the Jevons Paradox.

William Stanley Jevons was a British subject. In 1865 he wrote a book called, The Coal Question. In his book, Jevons was proposing a theory for the usage of coal, then the primary source of energy in the developing industrial world. He observed the effect that fuel efficiency had on coal usage.

Instead of improved efficiency limiting coal usage, it actually had the opposite effect. Because technology allowed less coal to be used to produce the same or better results, that lowered the cost of the coal, and then the coal, as more and more people became able to afford the latest technology, became cheaper. A cheaper product created greater demand. Thus, more coal was used.

The increase in demand, which fuels the increase in usage, is called the rebound effect. When the rebound effect is an increase of more than 100%, then it’s called a backfire. And the backfire is the crux of the Jevons Paradox, when the rebound effect exceeds the gains made from conservation.

We don’t use coal as our primary fuel source anymore. It’s interesting to note that at the time that Jevons wrote his book people were worried about eventually running out of coal. Coal was eventually replaced with petroleum and natural gas. And people currently worry that we are running out of all fossil fuels at the rate we’re depleting them.

Frequently, this scientific theory is quoted by conservatives as a reason not to bother with energy conservation efforts. After all, they don’t work anyway. In fact, they produce the opposite result. We should all just go out and buy Hummers. The only problem with that is that eventually we will run out of fossil fuels, and it will become impossible to use them as our primary energy resource any longer. And if we don’t have an alternative in place by then, then we’re kind of screwed.

The oil won’t just keep perpetually replenishing itself. And with more and more developing nations, particularly in Asia, requiring their own increasingly larger slices of the pie, it’s likely to run out sooner rather than later if we don’t take the lead in looking for a replacement.

This is not to mention that our dependence on fossil fuels puts us at the mercy of volatile middle-eastern governments. In some cases, one could even go so far as to say that every time you fill your gas tank you’re funding some terrorist organization.

Where do you think Osama bin Laden’s money came from? Much was made of the Hummer and then the Hummer II during both Iraq Wars. It was like a symbol of patriotism to drive a military tank as your personal vehicle. The truth is just the opposite. The symbol of true patriotism is a Smart car, or, better yet, a bicycle.

Our government should encourage conservation by taxing fossil fuels at a rate that makes up for any savings created with the Jevons Paradox. Then we should take that savings and invest it in research and development toward clean energy resources. We could do the same thing with cigarettes and junk food and the health crisis. Our government gives a lot of breaks to tobacco farmers and to growers of corn and soy beans. And where have you heard the words corn and soy bean come up most in the news lately? Oh, yeah.

No doubt, some of the actual economists or business enthusiasts who read this article will fault me for wanting to interfere with a “free market” economy. But this isn’t a free market economy and never has been. Our government picks and chooses which industries that it sanctions in the form of tax breaks, incentives, trade embargoes, etc. It always has; that is nothing new. Why not sanction our future instead of continuing to pour money into dinosaurs, both literally and figuratively?

The world is changing, whether we like it or not. We can do nothing and perish, or we can evolve and survive.

January 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

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