Sunday, July 31, 2005

The End of Diplomatic Immunity

One month from now, my old college friend Eric Hougen will be a married man. This joyous occasion marks the end of an era. All my rowdy friends have indeed settled down, and we're all officially adults.

The other night, I spoke to him on the telephone, and he mentioned that he's a little sheepish about sending invitations due to the fact that he hasn't bought many wedding gifts or baby gifts for his friends over the years.

I told him not to worry about it. Single men are officially foreigners in this strange kingdom called "Polite Society", and are offically granted diplomatic immunity. Nobody really expected him to give them gifts. Now that he's getting married, he'll become a full citizen, however, and he'll be expected to chip in.

His predicament reminded me that I too have forsaken my diplomatic post, and must send wedding and shower gifts right away.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Snips, Snails, and Mammary Tales

When four or more men are gathered on a hot July night, any given conversation can quickly turn to the virtues of the feminine form. The other night's BBQ was no exception. An apparent breast augmentation at the local YMCA sparked a lively discussion, and everyone was compelled to offer up an opinion on what constitutes "the perfect breast", and what we'd think of someone who gets a boob job (with our spouses goading us on, I might add).

Much to the pleasure of the spouses, the consensus opinion was that breast augmentation is usually the outward manifestation of a truly insecure and troubled personality. As far as men are concerned (at least the ones I know), an attractive woman with small breasts is an attractive woman. The a priori assumption of breast augmentation is the classic American "bigger is better" starting point.

Although I have no personal reason to reject the "bigger is better" hypothesis, for the sake of breasts everywhere I took offense, and took it upon myself to deconstruct the dehumanizing premise. To accept it would be to constrain my contemplation of breasts in mental whalebones more restrictive than the most chafing of Victorian corsets.

When my interlocutor inquired whether I preferred a B or a D cup, I inquired whether the B cup had an element of perkiness, whether the D cup required an underwire, and whether either breast possessed a mole with a protruding hair. Are the breasts symmetrical? Are the nipples a pleasing color?

Breasts have as many manifestations as the pantheon of Hindu gods, and all are worthy of praise and adoration. The perfect breasts belong to the woman you're with, and it doesn't hurt of remind her of it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Inspired Research

In some way, shape, or form, humankind always makes science fiction reality. The poets and dreamers made it to the moon long before the astronauts did, so dream on, idealistic young people of the world!

From today's BBC news:

China is planning to study the effects of space on sperm, by sending the semen from pedigree pigs into orbit.

Some 40 grams of pig sperm will be taken on board the Shenzhou VI spacecraft for its October launch.

Surviving sperm will be returned to Earth and used to understand better the processes involved in pig reproduction.

The pigs chosen are a breed called Rongchang, named after an area in the southwest of the country and famed for their physique and for the quality of their meat.

Agricultural experts hope to use the sperm to fertilise pig eggs back on Earth - to see what effect a period of microgravity will have had on the sperm's activity.

China's first manned spaceflight two years ago made it the third country able to launch a human into space on its own, along with Russia and the United States.

Jim Henson would be so proud.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Missing the Point About Live 8

In the aftermath of Live 8, the cynics took center stage. Do any of these refrains sound familiar?

"Yet another self-promotional feelgood crusade by multimillionaire rock stars."

"Why does it seem as though we're always throwing money at these people and nothing ever comes of it?"

"They're so corrupt, the money all gets stolen before it reaches the people in need"

If people took the time to actually consider the message of the event, perhaps they'd change their tune to something a bit more hopeful.

Unlike Live Aid, which was an urgent appeal for famine relief, Live 8 was a much more sophisticated political effort to eliminate third world debt.

Why eliminate third-world debt? Nobody's campaigning to cancel my debt load!

Imagine this scenario: Someone mugs you in broad daylight on the square. You file a police report and cancel your cards. The next day, you learn that your bank, at the request of the thief, has raised your credit limit to one million dollars (in exchange for oil drilling rights on your property). If this happened to you, wouldn't you be just as angry with your bank as you are with the thief?

That's exactly what has happened, writ large, throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Without the complicity of Western financial and military interests, Mobutu and Abacha would never have ravished their people. We victimize them three times: First by enabling tinpot dictators, secondly, by keeping their economies prostrate as we collect interest accrued during tyranny, and finally, to add insult to injury, we look at their misery and chalk it up to moral failure or cultural deviancy.

The good news is that the G8 countries have agreed to write off the debts of 18 impoverished African nations. So there. Rock Stars 1, Cynics 0.
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