Posts tagged ‘Osama bin Laden’
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.
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.