Wild Wild Words

Social Commentary
by
Christopher Wilde
Politics, Movies, Television, Current Events, Pop Culture, Opinion, Future Philosophy

Future Philosophy

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Subtle Forms of Tyranny

By Christopher Wilde

It is quite the thing to watch from Utah the situation between the State of Texas and the FLDS church. For weeks local and national news has run to show embittered ex-FLDS members who overwhelmingly support taking of all those children. There was also the sense that state officials in Utah were rubbing their hands together waiting to see if Texas could pull it off. Now the Supreme Court of Texas has ruled, the state was without merit and had no right to take more than 400 children. That’s good news though it’s doubtful many American’s will understand why. If the local and national media were doing their jobs they would have explored the dangerous precedent Texas was attempting to set.

Most rational people want to protect children for abuse. However the rationale for taking all of those children was the assumption that if a thirteen year old girl was pregnant then it was assumed the father was a much older man and the girl was forced into marriage. Let’s forget for a moment that the people on the FLDS compound tend to live about a hundred years in the past, or that girls married and had children at that age a hundred years ago. Instead let’s look at the standard, which is saying that any time, any 13 year-old girl gets pregnant that is grounds for removing the child from the home.

Your thirteen year old daughter get’s pregnant from her fourteen year old boyfriend, if the State of Texas had gotten its way that would have been grounds to remove your daughter from your home; because you had failed to protect your child. It’s always easy to dismiss this by pointing out that the FLDS have unusual religious practices and therefore assume the same thing could never happen to you. However, when making an argument on the basis of unusual practices it’s really only a matter of opinion as to what constitutes unusual.

What if your unusual situation is that your ex-husband accuses your new boyfriend of molesting his daughter? Do you want to have your child removed from the home until DNA tests can be performed on the unborn baby to prove your boyfriend is innocent? If Family Services comes knocking at your door with such an allegation are you going to wonder if your boyfriend is too friendly with your daughter? How would false allegations destroy your family and relationships? Can you afford the thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours to fight the state?

There are many negative scenarios that could play out under the communal standard Texas attempted to set, fortunately that standard failed to pass muster with the court and Texas is reduced to a case by case basis. This isn’t for the FLDS’ benefit; it’s for all of us. When newspapers quote people like Flora Jessop,

"Who's going to ever touch [the sect] again?" asked Flora Jessop, on the verge of tears Friday morning. She fled a polygamous marriage as a teen. "For something like this to happen, it kind of makes you wonder why you fight for stuff in this country." (LA Times)

It misses the point; the court is looking at the bigger picture of freedom for families throughout the state. They are trying to prevent children from being taken on the basis of a bogus phone call and the suspicion that something might happen as a result of the belief system of FLDS members. While it’s easy to point a finger at the FLDS and call their lifestyle a blight on society and children in general, had Texas gotten it’s way how long would it have been until that finger was pointed at you?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who Sees the President in Utah?

President Bush landed here in Utah yesterday and was whisked virtually unseen to a $500 dollar per person event in the avenues. Afterwards he came out and met the neighbors adjacent to the event shaking hands and giving out White House M&M’s. Cameras caught no more than a wave from the President.

Bush then headed up to Park City for a $70,000 a plate dinner. While he’s here he will meet with LDS church authorities.  At no time will the President be having a public event or be accessible to the general public. He’s just here to raise money for John McCain.

I realize that a President of the United States needs to be able to travel and fundraise, but when it’s not for himself it really bugs. It bothers me that taxpayers have to foot the bill for his jet fuel, fuel for the chopper, security cost, etc. Just so that Utah’s wealth elite can hump his leg.

He is a lame duck President so all the self-satisfied and sanctimonious Utahans who give him money are getting no more than their ego’s stroked by saying they got face time.

The President will then give the money to the republican nominee.  John McCain will most likely remember that these same Utahans didn’t want to see him.

Mean while the stupidity continues as former mayor Rocky Anderson had a small protest rally. The President won’t see the rally nor is he likely to care. Again because he’s a lame duck President the rally serves no purpose but to boost the ego’s of those who participate. Anderson calls that attitude, “complacency” but unless these protesters are going to stretch across the path of his motorcade the protest is nothing more than a big circle jerk.

If you can’t accomplish something meaningful then you aren’t doing anything but stroking yourself. The reality is that a large group of people could do something meaningful. Anderson believes that President Bush should be impeached. All those protesters could go to D.C. and lobby for it, or he could raise money for Barack Obama who will bring the troops home.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Isolation and the Subtlety of Smoking

By Christopher Wilde

By and large we are communal animals who require and seek to be connected to the greater world through our social circles.  In nearly any endeavor networking has been repeatedly shown to be the key to financial and political success far more than actual skill or talent. The tried and tested axiom comes to mind, "It's not what you know it's who you know."

However moving with the pack, while advantageous to its members, is often dangerous to the society as a whole.  Group mentality more readily spawns racism, sexism, and class-ism as the in-group has a tendency to blindly reject those who are out of group.

It is one thing to be an individual node networked to a group having the ability to move within and transfer information to other members of the group and quite another to be shackled together as part of a chain gang forced to do the same menial labor as your fellow intellectual convicts.

With this in mind I read with great interests reports of a new study by Dr. Nicholas Christakis of the Harvard Medical School and James Fowler of the University of California.  The study shows that individuals who do not quit smoking are stigmatized, isolated, and pushed to the edge of their social groups.  The majority of those who quit smoking more readily do so as part of groups made up of spouses, friends, siblings, and co-workers and who all quit at relatively the same time. The study also shows that those who are on the outside can later quit smoking and work there way back into the in-groups. What is not clear is whether those on the edge are there solely for the cause of their smoking.  

The researchers studied a sample of 12,067 people ranging from 1971 to 2003, the individuals were densely connected.   This allowed them to see that their is a strong social impact on smoking and a domino effect that takes place in close relationships as these people quit together in droves.

My interest in all of this is to what degree other aspects of psychology play into this isolation?  For instance what can be said of the kinds of people at the center of social circles, are they rugged individualists who lead the pack to quit smoking, or are they the desperate clinging co-dependent followers who cannot function without a group?

While the study is about smoking versus not smoking the underlying theory investigated is social network theory, what the researches refer to as "network phenomena." Social network theory suggests that the attributes of individuals (like skill or talent) are less important than their relationships and ties with other individuals within the network.

Social network theory plays a fundamental role in our understanding of how our society functions. Yet we are all individuals and any time a study springs forward that highlights the power of the group we should always strive to dig down and examine the individuals at play. Failing to do so serves only to polarize those outside of the center even further.

Now consider that earlier this year researchers at the University of Iowa found that nicotine addiction, like alcohol, has a strong genetic component. It seems to me, that if after thirty years those who continue to smoke may be those whose underlying addiction has the strongest genetic component.  They are individuals who may never be able to quit without long-term therapeutic intervention. These people, pushed out, may not be isolated because they lack good networking skills or social ties, but by virtue of an inability to easily quit smoking those ties are severed. They are now the victims of the conformist views of the group in addition to being victims of addiction.

I would expect to see these individuals with a multitude of other social problems outside of smoking and over time tend to believe these problems would only get worse. Meanwhile the larger group of non-smokers will continue to view themselves as better people. The in group whenever possible has a tendency to leach power from those who are out of group, only furthering the decline of individualism and independent thought.

So rather to look at this study and see the power of the group to promote healthy living that is better for all, what I see is a pendulum of group think mentality that has reached its apex in one direction and flung those individuals who haven’t the genetic strength to cling with the group. We must remember that there was a time when this same group mentality pressured everyone to take up smoking. There was a time when smoking was cool and to be hip you popped a cigarette in your mouth to mirror silver screen idols.

Don’t get me wrong, smoking is bad for you. Whether you quit or don’t quit should not be about the pressure of the group. It should be because you have the intellectual fortitude to realize it’s bad for you and then seek the knowledge, power, and therapy necessary to quit. While the pressure of the group is great in assisting you in this circumstance, the reality is that more often than not the pressure of the group is the one that got you into the bad thing in the first place.

Note: Please do not construe anything I’ve written here to mean I support “smoker’s rights.” I’m a proud ex-smoker who remembers the lessons of history and is still misanthropically traumatized by an ABC After School Special called “The Wave.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Vatican Goes New Age

By Christopher Wilde

On May 14, 2006 speaking in the Vatican Newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Father Jose Funes of the Vatican Observatory put a stamp of approval on the possibility of extra terrestrial life forms.

"God became man in Jesus in order to save us. So if there are also other intelligent beings, it's not a given that they need redemption. They might have remained in full friendship with their creator," he said.

"Why should we not talk about an extraterrestrial brother, just as we consider earthly creatures as a brother, and sister? It would still be part of creation."

"The Big Bang theory remains, in my opinion, the best explanation for the origins of the universe that we have, from a scientific point of view."

We may not be able to guess the precise reason for the timing of these statements but one thing is sure, they were inevitable. All organized religion is up against a wall and the strongest and brightest denominations should be looking for every chance possible to comport their faith within the realms of science.

While this must cut across the grain for many ideologues the fact is that in order for any religion to survive in numbers greater than a cult following it must adapt. It must adapt to changing times and changing circumstance.

It was all find and dandy for the Catholic Church to condemn Galileo, but over time the church adapted and now the director of their over observatory is pointing to the heavens looking for signs of life. Likewise here in Utah, the LDS (Mormon) church once fully embraced polygamy and held relatively racist views toward blacks and was forced to change.

Accepting a belief in aliens is a relatively painless acknowledgment by the Catholic Church that is until we are confronted with beings from another planet. What is most important is that it signals to the faithful and to the churches of the world it’s time to open your minds to a universe of infinite possibilities.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Obama is a Good Investment

Here's a little piece of news you might have missed.  Billionaire Warren Buffet endorses Barack Obama.  From the start he has supported both Clinton and Obama, but sees that  Barack has all but sown up the nomination.

"I told both Hillary and Barack I'd support them, and I'd be equally happy if either of them were the nominee," he said. "Barack appears to have the nomination."

Warren Buffet is the chairman and chief executive of  Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc.  For Utahn's Berkshire Hathaway owns RC Willey. 

A Stupid "Press Event" by the Utah Attorney General's Office

By Christopher Wilde

Utah works hard to prosecute child pornography, that's good, but to make their point they set about smashing up a bunch of computers.  The premise here is that images stored on a computer can never be erased and so they must destroy the computers.

Hold on back up.  Images in a computer are stored in the hard drive.  They are not stored on motherboards, RAM memory, they are not stored on most peripheral devices.  Further I believe you can use software to write over the sectors where any data on a hard drive is kept several times to do a complete wipe of the images.

Why all the who-ha?  Hmmm.  Well let's see...elections in November? 

These computers could have been put to better use.  The state could have, at worst case, removed the hard drives and properly destroyed them.  The rest of the computer could have been refurbished and given to Utah schools or another worthwhile organization.

Let's not forget computers are loaded with toxic metals that need to be properly recycled. 

Campy and Over the Top, but Hey it's INDIANA JONES

By Christopher Wilde

The first half of the movie is great.  You won't be disappointed, that is not until Shia LeBeouf, playing Indy's love child, starts swinging through the trees.  From there on out it's one ridiculous stunt after another leading to an uninspired and expected ending.

Earlier this week I watched Harrison Ford on David Letterman explaining why it had been so long since the last movie.  He said they couldn't find a script everyone agreed on.   On the drive home I kept thinking, "That's what you all agreed on?"

The problem seemed to be in the need for excessive, stupid, and over the top action that didn't really match the motivations of the characters.  That being said your children, twelve and under, will probably have a great time and there's no reason not to take them.  However if you would rather just sit at home and watch it on your own big screen with surround sound you won't have been worse for the wait.

If you need a spoiler here it is:  Indy get's married and saves the day.  Not necessarily in that order.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Support For Overturning Marriage

By Christopher Wilde

On Tuesday, May 20, 2008 Tom Ashbrook on his NPR program "On Point" covered the issue of the California Supreme Court Decision overturning the Ban on Gay Marriage.  As readers of this blog know I have published three articles on the subject of abolishing marriage altogether in favor of domestic partnership.  See PART 1: Overturning Marriage, Part 2: Divorce: The Legal Reality of Dissolving Your Corporation  and, Part 3: A Proposal for Ending Marriage in Favor of Domestic Partnership.

During the program one of Mr. Ashbrook's guests was Douglas Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  Mr. Kmiec strongly disagrees with the Court's ruling, however he finds their arguments and analysis reasonable.  When refering to a caller Mr. Kmiec states (audio position 38:30): 

"...is in the California Supreme Court Opinion that is worth paying attention to, and that is they suggested that maybe the way out of this is that  the state ought not be using the word marriage at all.  That to acknowledge religious believers that terminology can be given to them and the most important thing is that the law be even handed and that the terminology the state use let's say 'enduring union' ah is going to be the only thing the state allocates.  That's an interesting approach it seems to me to start toward reconciliation where you don't force anyone to change their religious beliefs because you allow them to have the special designation of marriage if they are part of a voluntary religious community, but at the same time you ensure equal justice under law in terms of the utilization of the single term for the license from the state so that stereotype and distinction is not drawn in that context."

Before turning to another member of the panel Mr. Ashbrook adds,

"Turn the concept of marriage over to the religious community and use some other language for the state."

Further supporting my idea Jeff Amestoy, a former chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court and a fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School, speaking in the Christian Science Monitor today, May 22, 2008

"The issue concisely posed by the chief justice is whether the difference in the official names of the marriage relationship – "marriage" for opposite-sex couples and "domestic partnership" for same-sex couples – violates the California Constitution."

"It is, in fact, precisely the chief justice's sensitivity to words that prompts him to indirectly suggest to the California legislature how to moderate the aftershock. He suggests that lawmakers could assign a name other than marriage as the official designation of the formal family arrangements for all couples, "perhaps in order to emphasize and clarify that this civil institution is distinct from the religious institution of marriage...."

"That invitation, coupled with the 30-day delay before the decision is effective, provides the California legislature with an unparalleled opportunity to preserve the fundamental fairness of the court's decision. An official designation of the constitutionally protected and legislatively enacted right to the benefits and protections for all couples as "marriage unions" would assuredly be constitutional under the majority's rationale."

That's two speakers on national forums suggesting that the word marriage be eliminated.  Neither go so far as to advocate as I do for an overhaul of partnership requirements to be prepared for dissolution of the union but it's a start.

Puncturing Animals

By Christopher Wilde

I love my pets as much as the next person, and so when I received by mail an 8.5" x 11" full color, card stock, glossy flyer from the Utah Pet Center I took notice.  They list three columns of intensive services to satisfy every need for your pet.  What threw me for a loop was the center column, reproduced below:

        • Hyperbaric Therapy
        • Chiropractic Manipulation
        • Acupuncture
        • Behavior Counseling
        • Cremation Services
        • Prescription Diets
        • Preventive Care
        • Nutritional Education

Prescription diets? OK.  Behavior Counseling, sure.  Hyperbaric Therapy, excessive but justifiable. ACUPUNCTURE?  What?  You've got to be kidding me. So I placed a call to the company and asked them how much acupuncture would be for a dog or a cat?  This is apparently a new service as the receptionist, Julie, did not have a price list and transfered  me  to a veterinary technician named Philip. Philip put me on hold but could not find the doctor who could give me that information.  He took down my name and number and I waited for him to call me back.  Five minutes later I received a call from Debbie who informed me that Dr. Whittman performed all of the acupuncture, but that today was his day off.

Debbie wisely asked about my pets and invited me for a tour promising to have Dr. Whitman call me tomorrow.  Rather than to go into detail about my pets I informed Debbie I was writing an article for my blog.  I think that I will have to take her up on her offer, interview Dr. Whitman, and provide my readers with more in depth information on this facility and the benefit of its services.  If I had a camera I'd take pictures of animals with needles sticking out of them.

The Utah Pet Center in in the old Utah Fun Dome building.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The New Prostitution

By Christopher Wilde

The following story is based on real people and actual events though the names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Angie sent me a text message telling me she was at the bookstore by my house. ‘Come show me your body.’ I’ve recently lost weight but what she really wanted to show me was her, fit and trim body. Angie is thirty, bright, attractive, and speckled with freckles across button cheeks. She’s a phenomenon with word and number puzzles, and after a few quick lessons learned to play an acceptable game of chess. She’s the proud girl next door who leaves the shades open just long enough for you to know it too. She’s works full time, raises two children with her ex-husband, has a boyfriend, and an active social life.

Her attitudes as a real life woman in Salt Lake City bear examining against a national portrait of women in the media. Hillary Clinton is running for president, “Sex and the City” is about to be released as a feature film on May 30th (Angie’s an avid fan), and for the first time four women made it as the final contestants on “Survivor” after dominating the men. Survivor just closed out its 16th season.

The premise of “Sex and the City,” the television show that broke ground on HBO, is best ascertained from the pilot episode in just four lines of dialogue. The following lines establishes a general motivation,

“You have two choices: you can bang your head against the wall and try and find a relationship or you can say SCREW ‘EM, and just go out and have sex like a man"

"Noooo. I mean without feeling!”

In addition to laying out an expectation that is also a central conflict for the characters the lines establish that all men have sex without feeling. It seems unnecessary to further define the quality of these men, in a television show you would expect them all to be good looking men, but never-the-less the characters are only interested in a certain kind of man,

“There’s not one woman in NY who hasn’t turned down ten wonderful guys ‘cos they were too short, or too fat or too poor.”

“I have been out with some of those guys, the short, fat poor ones. It makes absolutely no difference. They’re just as self-centered and unappreciative as the good-looking ones.”

The rest of the show is just a series of 400 dollar shoes and pure soap opera. For that reason it shouldn’t be faulted for lacking higher moral ground. That doesn’t mean the show isn’t making an accurate statement about the attitudes of women especially given its enormous popularity and appeal; it may have shaped and reflected the popular opinion of its audience.

It was quite a sight to see four women outplay every man in the last episode of “Survivor.” In the past men and women have used the affections of the opposite sex equally, this was the first time four women ganged up and systematically eliminated each of the men. As they said it they, “black widowed the men.” It’s easy to excuse their behavior knowing the prize was for a million dollars, but the game doesn’t need to be played along sexist lines in order for either gender to win. The girls beat out the guys by manipulating them to believe they were in alliances when in reality they weren’t. They were so successful at lying they convinced the nicest guy among the entire cast, Erik, to give up immunity as an act of good will to prove they could trust him, and then voted him out. When you watch the interviews with each of the girls they readily brag about the depth and level at which they manipulate the men and where not above doing so by revealing their bodies. A good example of this comes from Amanda, who was one of the final two, talking about Erik the final man to be cast off,

“The whole time I was with Erik I was trying to pretty much, tried to manipulate his mind. That’s what I do best, manipulate the minds.”

Then there is Natalie who waxes philosophically about her methods:

“Women are the smarter gender…But women have a manipulation and a um emotional vengeance about them that can drive them mentally that I don’t think men have. And it’s not even necessarily smarter versus not smarter gender it’s an emotional stick it to you that drives a woman’s thought process that gives a woman possibly the upper hand. Do I think it’s impossible to get five women together to stick it to the end, no, do I think outside my vision is it hard for women to get along? 100% I love women I would love to have women on my side. I’ve got some girlfriends at home that are my life line. We bounce off, we support each other that’s the way women should do and if women could do that they would rule the world cause women have so much power they have sexual power, they have intellectual power, they have the underdog, feeling power. There’s so many different elements to a woman and so many different layers were women are so powerful if they would stick together. And that’s were they’re idiots that’s where we are all stupid. Um so looking through my eyes is it possible, absolutely. Though probably normal people in the world, normal women in the world, no, women are so competitive so catty and not smart enough to think big picture and that’s what’s proved itself in this game.”

There are probably a lot of men who might be threatened by statements like Natalie’s. What she is saying is true except that in every case where she’s defining a woman’s power she is defining a woman’s power to manipulate. When she is speaking about a woman’s intellect she’s not talking about mathematical ability or the ability to learn languages or any other rational measure of intellect she’s talking about the power to emotionally “stick it to you” and in the video she makes a knife with her fingers and twists to demonstrate.

There is one major flaw in this theory of operation; it’s the same flaw that exists in “Sex and the City.” In both cases it assumes an opponent and that he is unaware or unsophisticated. The kind of manipulation she’s talking about is the grifting of the classic femme fatale. Manipulating people works a few times but eventually decent people stop trusting. When a grifter comes through and takes the town the next innocent stranger takes the suspicion and blame. In this case the next innocent victim is the next woman that comes into the life of the man that’s been injured.

If you are out to sleep with men for fun and leave them in the morning because that’s what you believe guys do it simply ups the ante for bad behavior. In the next round of “Survivor” why would the men not take every advantage to stick together and wipe out the women early?

These are just examples of how specific attitudes trickle up, down, and across from Sex and the City, to the television reality show Survivor, and to the Presidential Campaign of Hillary Clinton. In the article Hilary Clinton: A Major Setback for Feminists and other articles on this site I’ve talked about Mrs. Clinton’s “say and do anything to win” attitude. It’s the same attitude reflected in the women above.

The question women need to ask themselves is if this is the kind of behavior and attitude that they want to absorb, reflect, and defend. If you agree with this behavior then you have to fight it or be painted by it.

In many ways Angie’s behavior is much more honest. It’s straight forward, all the parties having sex are in agreement, and there’s no overt manipulation.

“I’m going to sleep with Jack.” I give no expression. Angie continues, “And make him pay my mortgage.”

“Good for you. What about his wife?” He’d been remarried about two years.

“Oh, I’m not the first. He’s a cheating bastard.”

“Well. OK, I guess that’s some consolation, and he’s going to pay you?”

“Alright, I already slept with him. It was really good.” Angie paused looking for my reaction.

“Did he pay?”

“Yes, over a thousand dollars.” And she could see I was beginning to laugh.

“He paid to have sex with his ex-wife, unbelievable.” It was hard to suppress a laugh.

You have to know something about Jack. He’s a well paid salesman. It’s not about the sex, or not just about the sex. This was about a feeling of power, of getting to have the woman who left. Not any woman, the wife. She enjoyed the sex, the money was a bonus, but to him the money was a way of buying a piece of her. He doesn’t mind paying the money. Now, he can have her whenever he feels powerless. The complexity of this illusion staggers me. I know Angie; I’ve known her a few years. This won’t last.

“I know–can you believe it?”   She’s laughing and twirling around looking at books at Barnes and Nobel.

The kids are over in the children’s section, later I’ll go over and read to her little boy. She’s lost weight; the twirling is to remind me.

“Angie, you look hot.”

“Thanks.”  She says. I’m glad I don’t have any money.

“What about Charles, he’s not moved out yet?”

“No, but he knows about Jack. Charles might stay. For the bills, but I’m not letting him make the rules.”

“No, you are not. You don’t let anyone make the rules.”

We walk over and check on the kids. They’ve been piling up books and when she comes over they hop up asking her to buy them.

“We’ll see.” She says. The youngest has found a small stuffed animal. “No, were not getting that.”

I check the price tag. It’s under five dollars, but there’s a larger, better looking one on the shelf for ten. Her daughter has three items, the little boy has one. I take down the larger stuffed animal and convince her to buy it for him. He’s so happy. I rub his head and he goes back to the table to look through his books holding the animal. Angie punches me in the arm, hard. I think she’s mad about the stuffed animal.

“What?”

“That cute guy over there was checking me out but he thinks I’m with you.”

That’s all? You’d think she was twenty-three. Is that what it is to have had two kids, worked your ass off to get in shape, and know your own mind? Never passing up a chance to get some attention? Her problem is easily solved. After a few minutes of talking to the guy, the second I let it slip that she and I are just friends, he abandon’s our conversation and sprints over to get her number.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

OBAMA OFFICIAL STATES RIGHTS CANDIDATE

 

 

OBAMA TO STOP RAIDS ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA CLINICS

Obama's camp had this to say to the San Francisco Chronicle,

In response to recent questions from The Chronicle about medical marijuana, Obama’s campaign - the only one of the three contenders to reply - endorsed a hands-off federal policy.

“Voters and legislators in the states - from California to Nevada to Maine - have decided to provide their residents suffering from chronic diseases and serious illnesses like AIDS and cancer with medical marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering,” said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

“Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice - though he believes medical marijuana should be subject to (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulation like other drugs,” LaBolt said. He said the FDA should consider how marijuana is regulated under federal law, while leaving states free to chart their own course.

LaBolt also said Obama would end U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana suppliers in states with their own laws.

Currently 12 states have legalized medical marijuana: California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Maryland, Vermont, Main, Rhode Island,  Alaska, and Hawaii.  Currently New York has passed a bill in the assembly and their is support in the senate. 

It's not wrong of Obama to take this position, especially when Hillary and McCain have refused to comment.  That makes Obama the official candidate for states rights. 

Part 3: A Proposal for Ending Marriage in Favor of Domestic Partnership

By Christopher Wilde

The California Supreme Court decision is about who can and who can’t get married. The culminating pressure that brought that decision into their hands is a tremendous force of love on both sides. Whether a belief that an institution is being preserved or a right being gained it all comes down to their hopes and dreams for a wedding day. Ironic, because all the details, preparation, romance, and expectation that goes into the single act of marriage means nothing in the eyes of the court. From the Court’s view the only important aspect of the ceremony is embodied in a little piece of paper, the marriage license the symbol of union, the corporate contract.

When that court later dissolves the marriage it will be with all the cold harshness of Solomon’s sword. It will not care about your first kiss, the vowels that passed over your lips, nor about the passion and promise that went into your sacred union. The emotionally fuel of love that goes into every good day, and every bad day of marriage does not matter. The court is only concerned with dissolving your assets, dictating the operation of your children, and preventing future hostile actions between the diminished companies that are the new lives of you and your former partner.

Failing to understand this is an expected naiveté of young couples of any gender, but it is not an excuse and there is as much a societal imperative to instruct potential families about this reality as there is to teach everyone to wash their hands after going to the bathroom. We don’t call carrying around cryptosporidium on your hands naïve we call it stupid.

The marriage conflict is simmering around the nation, the California Supreme Court decision has brought it to a boil. Already a movement is afoot asking the Court to stay their decision until a constitutional amendment can be placed on the ballot for November banning same sex marriage. The measure has garnered 1.1 million signatures. That is a far superior number than is required. Rather than being over the fight is only just beginning. Now is the time for a new proposal, now is the time to end marriage.

Marriage, regardless of religion, is a spiritual commitment shaped by the aspirations of love, family, and our public attitudes. It has no business in government; the law does not respect and barely acknowledges the existence of any aspect of love that makes a marriage. The proper goal of government is to regulate a domestic partnership which is a business organization more akin and reflective of a limited liability company, s-corporation, or partnership and should be treated as such up front and with the emphasis on all the good public policy necessary to ensure the partnership succeeds.

By eliminating marriage any couple wishing to take advantage of the regulatory atmosphere of domestic partnership should be forced to draw up a business plan, prepare articles of incorporation, and file biennial reports (every two years). Part of the plan, articles, and reports will include a plan of dissolution including a joint care plan for any children covered under the partnership.

Couples will be required to be answer questions about their future and prepare a plan of dissolution in advance of the actual fact. The act of planning for the future good or bad will alone provide a higher likelihood of an enduring partnership than the way to currently operate.

Here is an example. John and his wife Laura live in California. John gets an exceptional job offer in New York. The couple makes a plan for John to go to New York for six to eight months to start work, find a house, and generally get established. The two children will stay in California with Laura (who has a good job of her own) until the move at the end of the school year. While John is away two things happen, Laura gets a promotion and is now making as much money as John, plus she takes on a lover and decides she doesn’t want John any more.

Normally she could file for divorce, argue there was never a plan for her and the children to move, and that John “abandoned the family.” If John fights for the children it will become very expensive, additionally he has the uphill battle that if he wins the children may be uprooted from the community and lose proximity to family support in their native California. Chances are that Laura is going to win that battle. John is now trapped at his current salary unable to move back because the support he is required to pay exists and is only sustainable by the New York job.

Under the domestic partnership solution before going to New York John and Laura would have written out the details of the plan to move to New York, signed them into an addendum, filed them with the office of Domestic Partnership (County Clerk) and if those later events were to occur Laura would be barred from raising arguments, short of an extremely compelling reason, that anything other then the plan should be followed. She can stay in California but that is her choice.

There are very few unique situations between divorcing couples. The courts have litigated all but the occasional unusual circumstance and there is no reason why couples should not be forced to confront and preplan for all the known possible outcomes of their partnership. Additionally by requiring couples to continually establish plans and report the state of their partnership they are forced into having discussions and making regular commitments in writing.

All the silliness of marriage, the white dress, the vowels, the design of the invitations, and the “holiness” shouldn’t require a license and should not be under the purview of the courts. It should be separate, spiritual, and personal. The only legally binding thing that should fall into the courts should be a legislated domestic partnership.

If constitutional amendments are successful activist may have nothing to fight for except to rightfully tear down the dilapidated walls of the crumbling pre-industrial institution of marriage. Now is the time to build a new institution a gleaming structure to rationalized and practical thinking that can overcome the repeated failure of divorce. Marriage, in its current state, isn’t worth having, is discriminatory by nature, breeds corruption and deceit, and is the cause of thousands of untold deaths by suicide or murder. If gay rights activist lose the battle field to the superior war machine of constitutional amendment the next step is to improve domestic partnership. By turning domestic partnership into a stable and more desirable form of marriage couples will ultimately give up marriage in favor of the better way. In the end the fight over gay marriage will be moot.

Note: This concludes a three part article of a subject I have been studying and mulling over for years. The advent of the California Supreme Court decision prompted me to provide a summary of and idea and advocacy position in a short time and without nearly the depth, detail, or specificity I would prefer to provide. I would have preferred to have written a more detailed and supported piece however these three articles suffice to outline a potent idea. It is time for a major shift in social thought and I would encourage American’s and all people of the world to use any personal experience you have with divorce to look at what exactly this marriage fight is about? Ask yourselves if rather than to be girding up to defend the ridiculous shouldn’t we be inventing a better way to ensure a sublime future?   I will certainly be writing additional articles about this subject in the future, it's time to start a movement.

Part 1: Overturning Marriage

Part 2: Divorce: The Legal Reality of Dissolving Your Corporation

 

The Tang Bomb

 

Wow! They took this stuff into space?  Apparently you can use Tang breakfast powder, hydrogen peroxide, and a disposable flash camera to make a bomb powerful enough to bring down an airplane.  The citric acid in tang is supposedly sufficient to act as a catalyst

"The other component is a mixture known as HMTD — hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, a chemical cocktail made from readily available household and commercial ingredients. HMTD is extremely unstable and can be set off by heat, movement and even contact with metal." -Allison Barrie Fox News

A British court recently heard evidence regarding an alleged plot in 2006 to use the Tang bomb.

Here is a high speed video showing the power of just such a bomb.

 

It is important that we are placing considerable effort into stopping terrorists from using such devices we should be putting greater effort into providing a world end to the poverty that is the true breading ground of terrorists foreign and domestic.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Part 2: Divorce: The Legal Reality of Dissolving Your Corporation

By Christopher Wilde

We pour so much of ourselves into the idea of love, trying to understand it, find it, and hopefully endure within the confines of a relationship. The social pressure to be with that special person comes at you from every side. The mere tradition of being married carries a weight of conformity so profound it is no surprise that millions of people are sucked into its black hole every year. It’s ironic that we continue the cycle of marriage when on average the chances of success are little better than placing all of your material wealth on red or black and spinning a roulette wheel.

Despite knowing that our chances of divorce fluctuate between forty-five to fifty percent we continue to take the plunge without ever really understanding why most marriages succeed or fail. When “in love” no one wants to talk about the possibility that it won’t work; that would be far too unromantic.

When you consider all the talk and machinations put into finding whom we believe to be the right person who’s going to spoil it by over thinking? Failing to talk about why marriages do and don’t work is the number one reason the divorce rate is so high. It is very difficult to overcome what you don’t understand and aren’t willing to examine. There is another reason we don’t talk about it, studies demonstrate that certain criteria exist for who’s likely to make it and who isn’t. Chances are if you live under a certain tax bracket you don’t meet the criteria.

People are more likely to stay married if:

  1. they are married after age twenty,
  2. both grew up in stable two-parent homes,
  3. are well and likewise educated,
  4. enjoy a stable income from a good job,
  5. live in a small town or on a farm,
  6. did not cohabit or get pregnant before the marriage,
  7. are religiously committed,
  8. And of similar faith, age, and education.

If you don’t conform to that list of attributes the likelihood of staying married is slim, and for millions of people these criteria are simply out of reach. Who can change the fact of number two? It can’t be helped if you didn’t grow up in a stable two parent home. Now this list isn’t a guarantee of failure or success in a marriage. It’s more like a map and a compass pointing to a special class of people who are likely to find success. It’s not all bad news. Married people report that they are generally happier married then not married, but that happiness does not translate into a longer lasting marriage.

There is plenty that could be done to secure a better future for individuals considering walking down the aisle of contractual obligation.

We should start by pointing out the realities of divorce.

Divorce

Here’s what happens when the dying light of marriage fades. One party goes to an attorney and plunks down a few thousand dollars, the more contested (assets and issues you have) the greater the amount you will be asked to pay. Ultimately your spouse will do the same. Even in an amicable divorce each party should have an attorney to review the proposed divorce at all stages.

Either you or your spouse will file a complaint asking for a divorce and if the issues are deeply contested they will try to slam you as hard as possible. So long as their complaints have some modicum of belief that what they allege is true they can say it in the complaint. Verifying their allegations is part of fact finding called discovery which could entail hundreds of dollars in photocopies and back and forth letters of denial between attorneys, “We don’t have that document you do,” letters can cost twenty-five dollars or more a letter, plus copy costs and postage. After lots of paper gets pushed around then comes depositions that can last hours at hundreds of dollars per hour. If children are involved expect expert witnesses; deposing experts can double costs.

If you get to trial, expect to pay at least as much as you have paid up until that time. The legal process can wrangle on for months or years.

Divorce is expensive most people know that before getting married. Living in a bad marriage can be just as expensive. If the emotional problems of the person you are married to suck away the soul divorce might be the best option. On the flip side if the person you are married to is looking to trade-up you could get blindsided by a divorce and the emotional toll could be devastating.

Divorced and separated men are two and a half times more likely to commit suicide than married men. Women initiate the majority of divorce proceedings. Women attempt suicide too but are successful one out of every eight times when compared to men. This is for two reasons, women are less successful at it because they fail to use firearms, and women tend to cope better by pulling in friends and family for support.

The most affected by divorce are inevitably the children. Let’s face it if there are no children in the marriage the divorce usually comes down to money and frankly you are better off to pay whatever you can pay to permanently sever the tie and never have to see the other person again. However, if you have children you can never, short of the death of the spouse or your children, be free of that person. Nor should you be, children need both parents and it is always better if both parents can work cooperatively in raising their children.

On a side note this is one area where gay marriage is extremely good for children of heterosexual couples. While there is a strong legal standard that is supposed to prevent gender bias in child custody cases the bias still exists. The more judges and psychologists are forced to deal with the reality of choosing the primary caregiver from two men, or two women, perhaps they will show less bias when it comes to heterosexual couples.

We should consider another group of people. They are seldom spoken about in marriage and divorce statistics, nor are they really studied by health professionals. I call them the, “were it not but for’s,” we can also call them the, “only if’s.” Everyone has one close friend that is in, or has been in, this category. These are the people who would get out of their marriage were it not but for the children, where it not but for the financial security, and were it not but for their self-esteem has been so diminished they don’t know what else to do. The reasons are infinite and can often be as simple as so much time has gone by the thought of trying to find someone new or being on their own is devastating. See, there’s that pressure again, because the last thing you should do when you get out of a marriage is start looking for someone else.

People should be scared to death of marriage it’s a defunct institution that is not serving the needs of society. We all like to believe that we will be different while at the same time secretly knowing which of our married friends and relatives won’t make it.

There is a solution that solves this problem. A solution that eliminates the fight over who can and can’t be married, a solution that strengthens the family unit formed out of marriage, and a solution that will dramatically reduce the divorce rate.

Part 1: Overturning Marriage

Part 3: A Proposal for Ending Marriage in Favor of Domestic Partnership

Keywords: Gay Marriage, Domestic Partnership, Supreme Court, California, Homosexual, Divorce, In re Marriage Cases, (S147999)

Prince Caspian Soundtrack

 

 

A lot of people are going to be surprised by the soundtrack of Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia.  Featured on the album are songs by Switchfoot "This is Home", and Regina Spektor, "The Call."  You can purchase the tracks separately or the whole album at left.

I'd give a full review of the movie but I don't think I can be objective.  From the start of the movie, when the pinching began indicating magic, I was transported back to my childhood.  I haven't read the Chronicles since I was a kid, maybe about eleven.  Every time something I'd forgotten came on the screen I found myself holding the hardbound book with it's heavy paper.  When the four children return to their Narnian castle they find it covered with apple trees and I started remembering that there was a great deal more talk in the book about the trees than in the movie.  Special thanks to Andrew Adamson, even though the children never eat any of the apples or ever really talk about the trees they are clearly there.  Those details are very important and you have started a film series that does a find justice to the books.

Friday, May 16, 2008

PART 1: Overturning Marriage

By Christopher Wilde

Yesterday the California Supreme Court overturned the State’s ban on homosexual marriage. I spent the night reading through the Court’s decision, a 179 page novella of background, legal theory, concurring, and dissenting opinions. One of the most important aspects of the decision is the discussion of the California’s Domestic Registry.

The Court points out that in recent history California has continued to afford homosexuals generally the same rights as married couples through the Domestic Partner Act, but that this establishes homosexuals as a second class of citizens. The Court writes:

“Thus, in sum, the current California statutory provisions generally afford same-sex couples the opportunity to enter into a domestic partnership and thereby obtain virtually all of the benefits and responsibilities afforded by California law to married opposite-sex couples.”

They say virtually because domestic partnership does not allow registered couples to be “married.” In California it comes down to a terminology that sets up an unnecessary segregation between homosexuals and non-homosexuals. This equal but separate doctrine is obviously something that a lot of people in California believe in as they spurred the citizen’s initiative Proposition 22, approved in March of 2000, which establishes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Thus by overturning the citizens initiative it is likely there is going to be greater legal challenges to the subject of gay marriage, and questions as to the validity of all citizen initiatives.

What should most be highlighted by this decision is that the foundation of the institution of marriage is fundamentally flawed and that the entire structure has for years been slipping into the sea taking all couples, straight or gay, to a watery grave.

I do not say this because homosexuals don’t deserve the right to be married, they do, but because it would be better to completely strike down the very notion of being married.  Granted striking down the notion of marriage wasn’t before the court and it was not in their power to do, but it is something we should all consider for the future of our families and our nation. A better outcome for all couples is to be squeezed under the heading of “Domestic Partnership” and eliminate the very notion of marriage.

Please understand that I’m not seeking to undermine the magnanimity of the Court’s decision or the tremendous beneficial impact it will have on the lives of so many loving couples who have waited for the chance to be married. I’m not trying to undermine or to minimize the fear and trepidation that is being felt by social conservatives all around the world. This is an issue in which emotions run hot and shoulders run cold when attempting to have a substantive discussion about the issues.

It is very possible that the Court may grant a stay on their decision in order to allow further legal challenge, or to simply give the state an opportunity to legislate the Court’s decision. Thus it seems more than appropriate to point out the folly of marriage and hope that the current attention and focus on the issue will open the eyes of all American’s to the destructiveness of this antiquated institution.

Since the inception of this country our cultural contexts for marriage have constantly been under change. The majority of that change has been good in that it has freed women from being chattel to their husbands, and has expanded the protection and substantive rights of the children who are the products of our unions.

We often talk about the sanctity of marriage as if God had anything to do with the nature and quality of marriage. Years of legal decisions have affected and altered marriage in every form imaginable. Marriage use to be three equal parts, 1) the couple being married, 2) the children, extended family, and assets of the couple, and 3) a legal system that acknowledged but seldom interfered in the union.

Marriage use to be a patriarchal system unto itself where the will of the man was absolute and generally the courts supported this proposition. It had to change in order that life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and a measure of equality could be achieved. In order for equality and an opportunity to pursue happiness to exist marriage had to become an upright body upon which sits a Court of law as the controlling head.

It really can’t be any other way; we need our courts to resolve the issues between married couples, to protect the children who become the next generation, and to ensure that all parties obtain some measure of justice from the love that brought them together.

The Body of Marriage

Love or the notion of love is the heart and cause of marriage today. This wasn’t always the case. Marriage was often by arrangement and subjugated the lives of individuals to the wills of their families. We will never go back or yield the ability to decide for ourselves to whom we will be united. Because marriage is a matter of choice love supplants all previous contexts, religious dictates, or moral foundations.

The arms of marriage can be found in the day to day decisions the couple makes, and the legs of the institution are defined by the children, the extended family, and the assets of the couple. The legs hold power to alter the context of day to day marriage prior to the intervention of the larger society. The context of your marriage, or any marriage, is as much defined by and controlled by children, extended family, and money in almost equal proportion to the will and dictates of the two married individuals. That is not to say that all of those factors don’t compete, they do, but I have never seen a successful enduring marriage that did not maintain a healthy balances of all of those factors. When any factor gets out of balance inevitably outside intervention of the larger society is imminent. If the children are being neglected social services may be brought in and that can easily lead to society changing the nature, scope, and function of your marriage.

The head of marriage, to which many couples are completely blind, is the court system. The legislature may determine that those intending to be married should require blood tests or not be closely related marriage has for centuries been defined by the courts. Their decisions have overwhelmingly been unanimous: marriage is a corporation.

When you get married you enter into a contract as the California Supreme Court points out by quoting the 1872 civil code of the state of California,

“…marriage is ‘a personal relation arising out of a civil contract, to which the consent of the parties capable of making it is necessary...’”

The obviousness of this statement might seem redundant, but when you watch the couples waiting outside the courthouse to hear that their love can now be solemnized by the state you are hearing the same raw emotion of any couple in anticipation of marriage. What you don’t hear with every, “Yes I will marry you,” is the translation of that statement, “Yes let’s meet with the lawyers for a contract negotiation.”

We don’t hear the bit about lawyers and contract negotiation because we let the State draw up the contract, determine its function, we and don’t meet with the lawyers until one party wants to dissolve it. And that is the very real problem with marriage. While the act of getting married establishes your love as a corporation you are never really confronted with your corporate status until you get divorced.

Despite the current California Supreme Court decision and all of the changes over the years what most young couples don’t know is that a marriage certificate in any state in the Union indicates they have just formed a corporation. The legal partnership formed supersedes any cultural, religious, or emotional sanctity presumed to have existed. While your love may have led you to get married may dedicate you to a life of self-sacrifice and devotion that love will mean nothing to the head of the body.

I have been speaking publicly about this issue for years. My great hope for domestic partnership has always been that it might hold the promise of providing a legal status that ultimately would be more beneficial and desirable than marriage.

Love is a foolish thing; it is seldom a rational motivation to do anything. While gay couples must now wait in anticipation for the right to be married, and social conservatives will desperately seek a means to stop them let me be the first to point out exactly what has been won here.

By gaining the right to be married you have now gained the right to be divorced. You have gained the right to be confronted with your true legal status as a married couple. Most importantly you have been led down a primrose path by your love into a morass of thorny legal bramble that makes wearing a crown of thorns sound like a birthday hat.

Congratulations. You have won the big prize. Now you can get divorced.

Part 2: Divorce: The Legal Reality of Dissolving Your Corporation

Part 3: A Proposal for Ending Marriage in Favor of Domestic Partnership

Keywords: Gay Marriage, Domestic Partnership, Supreme Court, California, Homosexual, Divorce, In re Marriage Cases, (S147999)

Word of the Day: Pulchritudinous

By Christopher Wilde

As is the "pulchritudinous prostitute" the term used by Lorena Mongelli and Dan Mangan of the New York Post when describing Ashley Alexandra Dupre as she transportation jumped to her destination at the Flatiron District building (meeting with a lawyer perhaps?). 

 

I consider myself to have a decent vocabulary and pulchritudinous is one of those words that when used in context of other beautiful things you might slip over and soon forget, but when given the added beat of the word prostitute stands out like a ten dollar whore (sorry couldn't help myself).  I'm embarrassed to say I had to look up the word that means physical beauty.  The act of looking it up brought on a tremendous sense of déjà vu; I've looked it up before and more than once.

A quick news google suggests that reporters can't wait to use the word and must have the thesaurus book marked for just such an occasion.  Looking at Ms. Dupre it's easy to see why Spitzer paid so much money for her, (I'm thinking it's all in the lips), and reporters must think so too as pulchritudinous is just a very pretentious way of saying, "She's hot!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dear Sprint Nextel

 

 

Dear CEO Dan Hesse,

If I could change the way "a wireless company does things" it would be to make them stop running these commercials.  What initially made for a fine introduction to a new face, indicating a change of direction for the company, has now become a cliché.  A stark figure on hard dark city street, the camera constantly backing up so that this trench coated specter doesn't over take us has begun to make me dizzy.

Maybe that's great for investors maybe it's great for existing customers not to flee the sinking ship, but I can't imagine it's selling you any phones.  You're becoming the Xerox of cell service.  I really don't need to see your face every five minutes.

Theodora Goss Hits Stands this Month

By Christopher Wilde

When Theodora Goss and I attended school together I did not know that she was going to become a writer.  I believed she was going to become a lawyer.  She did and after serving her time in the legal arena went back to school to get a PhD in literature, began publishing short stories of the fantasy genre, and ultimately turned those into a book entitled In the Forest of Forgetting (2006, Prime Books). Her stories have been nominated for major awards: "Pip and the Fairies" for the Nebula Award in 2007, "The Wings of Meister Wilhelm" was nominated for the 2005 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction, and she won the 2004 Rhysling Award for Best Long Poem for "Octavia is Lost in the Hall of Masks."

None of it is surprising she is one of the hardest working people I have ever known and this is to say nothing of her incredible natural creative gifts (there are many).  Anyone who likes to sit back with a good story and feel as if the words have washed over and tickled the secret places of the mind will love her work.

Theodora and I once shared a tapestry through whose border we could enter, inside time stopped, and there we found some respite from the pressures of the world. As I have grown older I have oft longed for that place where my heart could be still and my mind free from the worries of the world.  Fortunately for me, she writes, and so long as she does I find that peace in her every syllable.

 

I share this with you in the hopes that you will find as much pleasure in her work as I do and to note that this month Theodora is featured on the cover of Locus Magazine.

 

 

Official Website

Theodora Goss Online

Smallville Update

T.V. Guide is exclusively reporting that Allison Mack will be staying with the Smallville cast for another season.  Regular readers of this commentary will note the article published here on May 9, 2008 The Death of Superman: Why I Watch Smallville.  No word as yet whether the producers are going to get to work on my proposed story line <g>.

Prostitution In the News

By Christopher Wilde

In preparation of my upcoming article it seems only fitting to speak briefly about some national cases of prostitution making headlines.  Yesterday Temeka Rachelle Lewis pleaded guilty, by way of an agreement with Federal prosecutors, for being the booking agent and money laundering for the Emperors Club.  The Emperors Club is the call girl service by which former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer arranged his rendezvous with call girl Asley Dupre.  So far neither Spitzer or Dupre have not been charged.  A possible charge pending against Spitzer is a violation of the Mann Act since he conspired to have Ms. Dupre meet him in Washington D.C.

Teneka Rachelle and Marc Agnifilo

A little background on Ms. Lewis.  Friends describe her as bookish.  She is an English Major from the University of Virginia, she lives in Virginia with her family.  According to her defense attorney Marc Agnifilo she was working as a waitress in Brooklyn and responded to a newspaper add to be a "scheduler for the Emperor's Club.  Three other co-defendants have been charged as well, an alleged part time booker Tanya Hollander, 36, a nutritionist, Mark Brener, a 62-year-old Israeli émigré who's been charged with running the ring, and Cecil Suwal, 23, alleged to have run the day to day operations.

Those operations were extensive as according to investigators the ring provided prostitutes in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami, London and Paris and charged $1000 to $5,500 an hour.

Brandy Britton Washington DC is the place where another infamous madame Deborah Jeane Palfrey had a business allegedly serving a powerful D.C. elite.  Mrs. Palfrey died two weeks ago in an apparent suicide, the same fate as one of her alleged employees former University of Maryland, Baltimore County, professor Brandy Britton, who committed suicide in January before she was scheduled to go to trial.

These are the high end stories, but throughout the country there have been many investigations and arrests of late associated with strip-bar/go-go dancers working on the side as prostitutes.  Another case of note broke in Albuquerque, New Mexico yesterday when the Secret Service and police arrested 47-year-old Bobby McMullin in an online prostitution ring in which he charged up to $1200 per hour for the service.

Capping all of this off is Gene Simmons, that's right of the band Kiss and who also has a very entertaining show on A&E (Gene Simmon's Family Jewels), who will be coming out on July 8th with a book entitled, Ladies of the Night, which is billed as a personal and historical perspective on prostitution.

Finally, even here in Utah, an alleged prostitution ring running through an escort service called the Doll House has made frequent headlines over the last year, has cost one of Salt Lake's finest prosecutors his job (he's appealing), and a candidate for office dropped her run because her ex-fiancé operated the escort service.

Gene Simmons Everywhere you look smart, college educated, people find themselves involved in prostitution.  While Gene Simmon's is not considered a great moral philosopher he know's how to work the media.  Recently he appeared on the Dr. Phil show in a segment, "Dr. Phil Now"  regarding the paparazzi.  You can expect that in anticipation of his coming book he will be making the rounds of show's like Dr. Phil's.  The result is that this summer there is going to be a strong national dialogue about prostitution.

However I will have my story about an unrelated incident of prostitution shortly and we'll be able to start that dialogue right here.

Link: The New Prostitution

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Upcoming Story: The New Prostitution

Currently I'm working on a story regarding a local incident of prostitution which I suspect has its like all over the country.  The article should be ready later this week.

-Christopher Wilde

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blythe Doll Redux: Blythe Dolls Reaching a Tipping Point

 

By Christopher Wilde

On April 30, 2008 I published that Blythe Dolls were reaching a tipping point and are due for a major resurgence.  Currently Blythe Dolls are a high end collectors item.

I based this inspiration on my interpretation of the collective unconscious, a theory of shared consciousness developed by Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung (a colleague of Freud).  I use my theory to predict trends based on variables gleaned from a variety of sources.

Last Sunday I opened up the Salt Lake Tribune to see a representation of a Blythe doll accompanying the article, "Europe Bound? Plan Ahead."

The section of newspaper (at right) is a perfect example of an archetypal image.  I contacted the author and illustrator Barbie DeSoto to ask her about the inspiration for this piece.

"I have never heard of (or seen) Blythe dolls, actually...As far as my motivation for my illustration, it just kind of came together. I decided to make the body small so the focus would be on her expression. Also, since I mixed flat, drawn shaped with pieces of photos, the exaggerated proportions would make sure not to confuse people about its realism."-Barbie DeSoto.

And yet.  in my opinion. she unknowingly drew a wonderful representation of a Blythe doll.  This is an indication that many of us are subconsciously carrying around different forms of Blythe Dolls in our heads.  Incidentally Carl Jung did a lot of work with archetypal images (see Man and His Symbols).  Jung demonstrated that symbolic representations can be found naturally appearing across all cultures, essentially suggesting that certain archetypes are hard wired.

I can't say that a Blythe doll is specifically a hard wired symbol.  In the case of Desoto's work the large head suggests a kind of frazzle one might experience during a failure to plan ahead for Europe, A sentiment of stress that cuts across all cultural lines.  Many readers will also note that a large head and small body is a representation associated with alien visitors from other planets and has graced popular culture for decades, and that all of Tim Burton's work (The Nightmare Before Christmas) tends to follow the same look.

The distinction here is that a Blythe doll is uniquely a representation of femininity and, I suspect, a modern reinvention of a fertility goddess.  The symbol for a fertility goddess is a full belly and large breasts.  If that seems like a stretch consider that in past eras feminine power was esteemed for the ability to reproduce.  However in our current age of controlled reproduction the esteemed goddess quality of women is to be cunning and intelligent while maintaining a graceful feminine mystique that is not highly sexualized.  That is to say those are the socially preferred qualities not the necessarily what is most often represented.

Responding to my previous article, Ms. Desoto had this to say:

"I think you're right about the Blythe dolls. They'd be a non-sexualized option for the "tween" demographic (unlike Bratz dolls which I also find unattractive) plus they're well-designed -- not too cutesy. And, this is merely a personal wish, they would hopefully help encourage young women to focus on becoming strong individuals rather than negating the feminist movement by making it chic and hip to be nothing more than consumers and desperate seekers of male validation."

A variety of Blythe Dolls can be found on Ebay.  My research into their sales patterns demonstrate a frequent turn over, the majority of the dolls sell depending upon the quality and type.  I was surprised at the number of dolls transacted at a price over a thousand dollars.  There also appears to be a trend toward a specific look and style of Blythe doll selling better than those which appear to me too cutsie.

In order for Blythe Dolls to cross the tipping point into a mainstream explosion there needs to be a television show; however I believe a better avenue would be to do a Pixar style (ala Toy Story) movie about a girl named Blythe (p.s. keep Tim Burton away from the set).  If the story line follows the general principles I've outlined here the film would most likely be a gigantic success as no one has yet to adequately capitalize on the unconscious Blythe.  In the mean time, over the next six months expect to see a greater number of representations appearing in advertising and other forms of media.

Jimmy Fallon Tapped to Replace Conan O'Brien

 

According to press reports Mr. Fallon is excited for the job, but outside of his work on Saturday Night Live has he ever carried a single show by himself?  While the movie Fever Pitch was cute he won't be able to lean on Drew Barrymore night after night.

Jay Leno is right, hire the best writers and pay them everything you can, but I have the sneaking suspicion Jimmy Fallon could quickly go the way of Chevy Chase.

Chase, who despite a string of very successful movies, and an SNL alum, failed miserably in late night.  Fallon's career has largely stalled since SNL, and while he comes off as sweet and endearing I've yet to see him appear in anything that suggests he can fill O'Brien's shoes.

Fallon has been selected by Loren Michael's (the Oz behind the curtain at SNL). Michaels also picked then unknown O'Brien to take over for David Letterman, and produces Tina Fey's vehicle 30 Rock.

My fingers are crossed for Fallon.  He's smart and he was hilarious on SNL, but I'd be much more inclined to set my DVR for him if I get an opportunity to see him doing some guest hosting between now and then.  Given his movie failures, you'd think he'd have taped an HBO standup show by now,  does he do stand up?

Narrow Stairs' by Death Cab for Cutie

New Album Debuts Today

NARROW STAIRS track listing:

  1. Bixby Canyon Bridge
  2. I Will Possess Your Heart
  3. No Sunlight
  4. Cath…
  5. Talking Bird
  6. You Can Do Better Than Me
  7. Grapevine Fires
  8. Your New Twin Sized Bed
  9. Long Division
  10. Pity and Fear
  11. The Ice Is Getting Thinner

Death Cab for Cutie is arguably the best Indy band in America.


Skimpy Prom Dress Lands Texas Teen In Cuffs











Marche Taylor is the Houston teen featured in the video. She wore a skimpy dress to her High School Prom held at the Sugar Land Marriott. She was stopped in the lobby and prevented from entering the dance on grounds that her dress violated school dress codes. She demanded an explanation, offered to cover up, and when refused demanded her money back. The police were called and now she's fast becoming viral video history.



There was a time when the dispute over improper clothes centered around the length at the knee. Those days are long gone. In this situation there are no winners. The school is not wrong. While Miss Taylor might have been trying to cause a stir can there be any doubt that this is the sort of outfit she's seen in music videos her entire life? With the amount of press she's been given it's only a matter of time before a rap artist makes her the subject of a song.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Burger King Launches BKIndy.com Gives $10,0000 a Day...

...And Serves Up Rotten Tomatoes for Migrant Workers

   By Christopher Wilde

If you eat Burger King, I don't. Yuck.  They have launched BKIndy.com and are giving away $10,000 a day as part of an Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull promotion.  Apparently the site went online on the tenth of May.

I went through the sign up, they want your cell phone number.  Grrrrr.  Ok, I'm going to give it to them and see if I can dig for $10,000.

After you complete the sign up it tells you to enter your secret code.  So, that code comes from a purchase, something I won't make from them, it comes from a text message, or email I've yet to receive.    Ten Minutes......no code.  Well that settles it, nice promotion and I suppose now I've given them my cell phone number which means they'll probably sell it off to someone else.

I should say my opposition to Burger King isn't taste (though their fries could be better).  It's calories.

For example a Whopper with Cheese, that's 770 calories, or double what I eat in a current meal (I'm on a diet since January, doing good too!)

You can go to BKindy.com or if you want to see what you are putting in your body go to

Burger King.com                                         You will pick the tomatoes Mr. Jones and I won't give you an extra penny! 

Rotten Tomatoes

In doing follow up on this story I uncovered a dispute between migrant workers and Burger King over the workers request for an additional penny per pound for the tomatoes they pick.  Here's were things get really rotten, apparently Burger King Vice President Steven Grover was using his daughters online alias to send post nasty messages about The Coalition of Immokalee Workers representing the workers.  The coalition uncovered that the emails, logged under the name of "activist2008" were actually coming from within the Burger King head quarters, while additional messages came under a second screen named used by Mr. Grover's daughter, who is still in school.  When asked they younger Grover fingered her father as the King behind the messages. Source: The Independent