As The World Burns: Let’s Talk About Sex – 5/2/2010

Sex . . .

Now that I got your attention, let us turn this taboo discussion into a mentality that has rarely been ventured. Sex is nothing new in our culture, but the subject taken seriously is more absent than a condom dispenser in a red state.

The sensitive nature of this issue has been brought up at Cabrillo College, where the student paper, The Voice, published a column that gives advice on safe sex. The column has received backlash by the Cabrillo faculty and community, since the advice was not abstinence only.

When the discussion of sex is brought up, the two reactions are either outrage over such an offensive subject that is very inappropriate to talk about, or laughter because you said “boobies.” This social dilemma has become an obstacle when trying to teach sexual education.

The only reasonable solution in practice has been for public schools to teach sex ed courses but also to give students the choice of opting out if they find it offensive. However, those who do take it are required to respect the subject matter (like not referring to the act of reproduction in lewd terms).

Sadly, the most popular and ineffective approach to educating students about sex has been the abstinence only program enforced by the federal government. Thanks to the Bush Administration, public schools are forced to teach abstinence or be denied funding (42 U.S.C. § 710b).

Some states (like California) have refused to give in to this blackmail and, to no surprise, have the lowest teen pregnancy and HIV cases in the nation (based on a 2004 Congressional report by Henry Waxman).

So why is our society so sexually repressed? America is a Western nation which should be very open about sex. At the birth of our nation, the Founding Fathers ensured the eradication of John Calvin’s legacy and the Puritan influence on colonial society. Let us also not forget the works of Alfred Kinsey, Lenny Bruce and Hugh Hefner for setting in motion the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Yet, remember the public backlash from the infamous “Nipplegate,” when Janet Jackson exposed her nipple for less than a second during Super Bowl XXXVIII.

As a Western society, one should have the freedom to be well-educated about sex or to talk about that weekend trip to Santa Barbra on Halloween without feeling ashamed for not waiting until marriage. If our society fails to achieve sexual liberation, enjoy that “happy ending” as you watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/2/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Let’s Talk About Sex

As The World Burns: Right To Bong – 4/23/2010

After being dazed and confused last week on “420” in the midst of the deep provoking thoughts inspired by “Apocalypse Now,” I began to wonder if this will be the last time engaging in this unofficial holiday is a misdemeanor.

The debate of marijuana legalization has been one of the hottest issues that is being marginalized by the media and politicians. While the Obama Administration is trying to ignore the issue, California is taking steps to legalize and regulate this billion-dollar industry.

To continue the enforcement of a law that William F. Buckley Jr. once said “has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could,” is not only ludicrous but also irresponsible on the part of government during this troubling economy.

Regardless of what opponents say, they have failed to make any validation of what could be regarded as a rational counter argument with any factual evidence. The opposition’s argument consists of racial fears, old wives’ tales and the reefer madness concocted by Henry Anslinger (political opportunist and the first drug czar) in the 1930s.

Even then, Ansliger’s crusade was seen as a scam, and his lies were exposed when Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York from 1934-1945, commissioned the first scientific study regarding the effects of marijuana in 1939 (LaGuardia Commission).

The most recent study in support of legalization, “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” by the Department of Economics at Harvard University, was published in 2005. The report focused on the economical ramifications of prohibition and how legalization could benefit the economy. The study received the endorsement of 500 economists, including Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the modern age who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976.

Legalization would economically benefit communities in Northern California, where medical marijuana farming is a major source of revenue. The legalization would boost revenue and bring in tax dollars to the state government. At the same time, agencies once responsible for enforcing marijuana prohibition will now have to supervise its regulation and taxation.

From the average American to politicians to Noble Prize winning figures, the ongoing prohibition has been a blunder. If California fails to get the ball rolling on the movement of legalization, then have fun enjoying that “Emerald Kush” in the closet while watching the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
4/23/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Right To Bong 

Cyberbullying and its many unsavory aspects – 4/17/2010

Bullying is a problem that impacts every institution of learning. It’s common for one strong individual to torment a weaker person for entertainment. It is also a problem that has been long ignored by schools.

Sure, schools claim to have a zero-tolerance policy against bullying while embracing programs to reduce the problem. In reality, most of it has been talk only, while some anti-bullying campaigns have made it easier to identify the easy targets (like the “beat bullying” wristbands).

Bullying is a problem that can only be solved with action. All a victim has to do is confront his or her tormentor and engage the bully in a manner that will ensure the individual now has a reputation of being aggressive. However, this only works against bullies at school. There is still the problem of cyber bullying.

Traditional school bullying brings physical and emotional harm to an individual; cyber bulling causes harm to one’s reputation. As stated by Robert Greene in “The 48 Laws of Power,” a reputation defines an individual’s power, and so one must protect it at all costs.

On rare occasions have cyber bullies manipulated the emotions of an individual, which resulted in someone having an emotional breakdown. The most well known was Megan Meier, who committed suicide after being emotionally tormented online by Lori Drew, the mother of Meier’s friend.

Cyber bullying not only causes great harm but it’s also an issue that is difficult for an individual to deal with. The problem with cyber bullying is that one can’t show force or act aggressively because of the social stigma associated with fighting online. By doing so, one has dug himself or herself into a deeper hole of embarrassment. Also, most bullying is done anonymously so it is difficult to hunt down the bully in person.

Like the issue of traditional bullying, this is a problem that school districts have failed to properly handle. Too often the solutions are a pep talk to the entire school by a counselor or a teacher telling students to “be nice.”

This is a problem that only teachers can solve. It should be the responsibility of the instructor to identify students who could be the victims of cyber bullying and to work with counselors to help the student, while taking disciplinary action against students who participate in the harassment.

Or the victim could take action against those who are rumored to be tormenting him or her. The culprit may never be revealed after breaking the faces of a few individuals. This will send a message to other students that you are not a person to mess with.

Written for La Voz Weekly
4/17/2010
Original Article: Cyberbullying and its many unsavory aspects

As The World Burns: Faking My Religion – 3/8/2010

Is America a nation that is deeply religious where moral values are held in high regard, or are we pretending to have religious values?

Such a question may seem shocking given how Americans love their faith, but then it becomes obvious when one understands the greed that has polluted the moral fabric of our society.

Most of the major religions of the world have condemned greed, lust and gluttony. But in America, this has become the norm of the society. Rather than using religion as guidance for one to set the standards of his or her values, it has become a tool for one to appease his or her sins. If you want proof, look at the politicians and business leaders in the news, then compare how openly faithful they are versus the controversy regarding their unethical actions.

The best example to look at is Erik Prince, a devout Catholic who is board member of Christian Freedom International as well as the founder of Blackwater USA (now called Xe). Prince has been under investigation by the Justice Department with regard to massacres perpetrated in Iraq by Blackwater mercenaries (as defined by the Oxford Dictionary and the Geneva Code).

This obviously goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church, which has condemned acts of genocide along with apologizing for its past sins or blunders.

In a less extreme example, one could look at the sex scandals that have plagued the Republican Party. At a time when the GOP is in decline and desperate for power, Mark Sanford had to put South Carolina in panic so he could get a quickie in Argentina.

But public and business figures are not the only ones who are faking their religious values. American society itself is guilty of bastardizing religion.

In a 2009 survey by CNN of 742 people, 52 percent of those who attend church regularly supported the use of torture. Oh, and don’t forget the eight murders and 217 acts of terrorism committed by pro-life activists, according to the National Abortion Federation (notice the irony).

So who is to blame? We could say it’s American society not wanting to change its ways so they indulge themselves in religion. Or you can just blame Jerry Falwell and Ayatollah Khomeini.

If Americans really want to emrace their religion properly, then they should actually try and be decent people. Rather than listening to some fraudulent televangelist, try volunteering at organizations that help under-privileged people.

However, if religion is going to be used as a tool by society to hide its lack of moral fiber while leaders use it to fool a greater power, then pawn your tickets to the second coming and instead just sit back and watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
3/8/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Faking My Religion

Silent car killers – 5/5/2008

If a tough car is involved in an accident with a feeble car, is it the fault of the driver for not paying attention to his surroundings or is it the fault of the car itself for being too tough?

This is similar to the dilemma that has fallen upon Toyota Prius owners for the car’s near-silent engine, which now poses a risk to the blind pedestrian.

With many hybrids on the road, there have been growing concerns about the safety of blind pedestrians who rely on sound to get by. Legislation that would set a minimum sound level for vehicles may even be heard before Congress.

What next? Legislation that would make a car body more flimsy?

Given the attention the media has afforded such stories, it seems that this concern is more noteworthy than the 400,000 killed in Darfur or the 80 killed during the protests against Chinese oppression in Tibet.

Is it really necessary to pass laws to set a minimum sound level for vehicles as a substitute for drivers not being aware of who or what is on the road? If the law passes and cars become loud enough for people to hear, will it be okay to drive blindfolded?

Any one who has read the California Drivers License Handbook should know that motorists need to be aware of their surroundings and that pedestrians always have the right of way at crosswalks.

A motorist needs to be responsible when driving in areas with large numbers of people. It’s not like “Grand Theft Auto III” where there is a big cash reward for running over pedestrians, no matter how tempting it is.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians account for 11 percent of motor vehicle fatalities. The most common cause of these accidents is negligence on the motorist’s part.

It is the driver’s responsibility to be aware of his surroundings and be fully alert to pedestrians crossing the road. Drivers shouldn’t be expected to rely on their engine sound to warn pedestrians of their presence.

The engine of the hybrid car is only quiet if the car is being driven at a slow speed, which is also safe in suburban neighborhoods where children are present. Traveling at such a speed should give the driver enough of an opportunity to be aware and plenty of time to stop. Unless, of course, the government changes the laws to raise the minimum speed in neighborhoods so the engines could be heard.

Would it be better to install a device in the cars which would emit a sound to warn both pedestrians and other drivers? Such a law will not make the roads safer for pedestrians, it will instead motivate drivers to rely on their engine noise to warn pedestrians rather then be aware of their surroundings.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/5/2008
Original Link: Silent car killers