Sunday, January 17, 2010

REVIEW - "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassius"

Before we get started, I would like to point out, from the credits of the film, that one of the production companies involved in the creation of "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassius" is named - no joke - "Poo Poo Pictures." The potetial for snark knows no bounds, but it's too easy. Besides, "Parnassius" isn't that bad.

The latest film from visual visionary Terry Gilliam (he of "Monty Python" and "Brazil" fame) stars Christopher Plummer as Dr. Parnassius, an old monk who, when placed into a trance, can help the imaginations of others come to life. He is granted immortality after making a deal with Mr. Nick (alias The Devil), played by Tom Waits, and now operates a traveling side-show that showcases his power. But, the Devil has come to collect, and the prize at hand is the doctor's 16-year old daughter, unless Parnassius and Co. can successfully bring five people through the Imaginarium and out the other side in two days.

I'll give you a moment to stop your head from spinning.

The key issue with "Parnassius" for me was that I always felt that I was missing some vital bit of information that would've made the whole thing make sense. Why is the Devil so interested in Dr. Parnassius? Why does every person who enters the Imaginarium have to make a choice between light and dark, a la "Star Wars"? And finally, what's the deal with Tony (Heath Ledger)? Is he a prisoner? Is he a participant? Good guy? Bad guy? All these questions kept me one or two steps behind the narrative, and kept me from enjoying the film as much as I could. Now, for full disclosure, I did arrive at the theater about 5-7 minutes too late (or maybe it was longer? Who wants previews before a Terry Gilliam film?), but I really doubt that all this info could've been crammed into that timeframe and still make it to the point where I walked in.

Visually, it's spectacular. That's the one thing about a Terry Gilliam movie; you know it's going to at least LOOK good. The CGI in the movie has a slight cartoon quality, but that only takes place in the Imaginarium, which is supposed to be separate from reality. It's forgiveable since it adds to the aesthetic of the movie, but a small part of me couldn't help but chide the film for using CGI that was pulled out of 2001.

Most of the characters are pretty stock, but harbor some complexity within them. Parnassius is a drunk old man that is hard to like or dislike. Verne Troyer plays a very funny sidekick and almost walks away with the movie. Mr. Nick is a devil that resembles and acts more like John Waters in a Bugs Bunny cartoon than Beelzebub. The character of true complexity is Tony. He starts off as a prisoner, then quickly reverts to an all-out disciple of Parnassius, and then details from his past emerge that throw his character into question. Basically, I'm not sure what his motivation is!

It should be noted the work that went into salvaging "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassius" after the tragic passing of Heath Ledger. He was halfway through "Parnassius" when he died, leaving the future of the film in question. (Just for the record, Terry Gilliam is the unluckiest filmmaker to ever live. Anyone doubting that should watch "Lost in La Mancha" and pray it never happens to you.) I'm not sure if the script was re-tooled - and it doesn't matter, anyways - but Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell stepped in to complete the project by playing Tony while he's in the Imaginarium. In a way, this adds some depth to the film, as all three actors represent a different side of Tony's character. Depp represents the charm, Law represents the ambition, and Farrell represents the dark side.

"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassius" is not a bad film. It just can be... obtuse at times. Definitely not for the casual moviegoer trying to kill a Friday night. It's for Gilliam fans, fans of a visually stunning art film, and for those looking to wrap their brain around a movie.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What's Really Important

I was going to write about politics tonight, but I couldn't muster up the necessary bile. I feel too good to be an asshole tonight, which is not something that can be said often.

To paint a visual picture, I'm sitting in my favorite chair with the AC on a rather cold 66 degrees. To compensate, my homemade Yankees blanket - which my mother made for me - is tucked around my legs like the fish-part of a mermaid, only this time with Pinstripes all over it. The apartment is clean for the first time in a long time, and it looks great, like a grownup actually lives here. I've had my favorite radio shows playing all day while I did absolutely nothing.

And you know what? It's the "nothing" part that makes it cool. I'll tell ya, these are the days worth living for. Nowhere to go, no pressing urges or desires, none of that drivel. I can do whatever the fuck I want. And I'm going to enjoy the last few moments of freedom I have; I've come to understand that you don't have this kinda time when you're married and have two kids.

Tomorrow work starts up again for all of us, and life will be knocking on our collective doors. But for right now, let's pretend we're not home.

Hope everyone had a brilliant vacation.

Test Blog

Hi Everyone,

This is a test of the BlogWriter software on my iPhone 3GS.


Friday, September 19, 2008

This Just In...

Somedays you just wonder why you get out of bed in the morning. Similarly, there are some days I wonder why I go on the Internet at all, because it’s going to show me something I’m going to get upset about.

I haven’t been following Sarah Palin and her politics much, as I already decided I don’t want her in the White House, just like I don’t want John McCain or Barack Obama in the White House either. I have some more thoughts on why she was chosen, and I’ll bring them up in a little bit. But first, the nitty-gritty.

Sarah Palin was interviewed by ABC News for segments that will air this weekend. Sort of a real-life rendition of the “Get to Know Me!” segments Jon Lovitz used to do on "Saturday Night Live." I watch them because I think it ups my cred as a serious political commentator and not just a jerkoff with a website. And when the subject of God came up, I knew I was in for a ride. It’s kind of like watching a baseball game and knowing a batter will strike out and leave the bases loaded.

The problem for me came up when the subject of God and the Iraq War started getting bounced back and forth between Palin and Charles Gibson like ping-pong ball. Of course, Palin is the poster-woman for the Modern Conservative, so she has some kind of religious conviction*, not just of her actions, but of life itself. A video clip was shown of her telling people to “pray for the soldiers” and Charlie Gibson, the knife-fighter that he is, asked her if she felt that the War in Iraq was guided by God. Mrs. Palin tried to spin her way out of the question and the video clip, and I found myself agreeing with her when she said it is impossible to know God’s will. I believe that, but for different reasons than her. Where I lost her was when she said that the quote came from Abraham Lincoln and the gist of what she said was that we shouldn’t pray that God is on our side; we should pray that we are on God’s side.

It took a lot of super-glue to put my head back together after it exploded.

I’m not going to argue faith with anyone. When you’re talking about whether God exists or not, faith is the equivalent of a Blackjack. You either have faith or you don’t, and there is no way you can penetrate that shield and deliver a critical blow. That is why religious debates on television rarely come away with a clear victor. You cannot argue objectively with faith because faith is belief in spite of or in the absence of objective evidence. However, you can always criticize having faith, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I don’t care what god you pray to, when you’re in something as serious as a war, the LAST thing you should be doing is wondering about matters of the supernatural. If God cannot materialize in the White House and give the president better military advice than Donald Rumsfeld, then the matter is inconsequential. Instead of worrying about the Interstellar Angels dancing on the head of a pin, someone in that high of a position of power needs to be concerned with the facts: how many troops are dying every day, the strength of the enemy, and whether it is a better decision to quit and save face or ride the embarrassing and costly wave to the bitter end.

To be fair, Sarah Palin didn’t make the worse error of wondering whether God was on her side, an error that has been made by other people in positions of power, not to name names. She is talking about the moral dilemma of war itself. She just chooses to view her morality in a religious frame, and I have to appreciate that as her decision. I can imagine someone in that position of power lying awake at night wondering if he or she did “the right thing.” That is a human response. And going into a situation like the War in Iraq, when nobody had all the facts as the cry for war started, right and wrong were ambiguous concepts, seemingly existing and not existing in the same space like Schrodinger’s Cat.

But I still don’t believe the time is right for introspection. We’re not even out of this train-wreck yet and we’re spending a lot of energy looking back. I certainly appreciate all the new evidence which has come forward about motives and facts, but we have to deal with the problems of the here and now. Mrs. Palin would spend time wondering the “rightness” of all the actions up to that point - a useful exercise in its place - but I’d rather see someone in her (would-be) position dealing with the realities and the facts of right now.

The other thing that tickles me about her is how a lot of liberals have come out against her nomination as Vice President as a political move. To them, I issue the following “Duh!” Of course nominating Sarah Palin is a political move! Nominating ANY candidate for ANY office is a political move because you’re in POLITICS! Our political system is kind of a game because it is a genuine talent search crossed with a popularity contest. Nominating Obama is partly a political move as well because of the integrity of his personal character. It gave him a political edge, except in certain backwards fuckwater areas of the country which shall go nameless. If we were voting on sheer experience and political ideals, I believe Hilary would be the one on TV now. She’s got more experience under her belt, and she’s - let’s face it - the Arch-Democrat, the sort of person that should be the front picture on the Democratic Party’s Wikipedia page. But, unfortunately for her, Obama had more personal charisma and his So-Simple-Your-Dog-Can-Understand-It Message of Change reflects what a lot of people in the country are clamoring for: a fresh start with some new blood. In fact, Obama’s personal character makes up most of what people (at least on my level) know about him. I’d love to quiz my friends who support him on his politics, and see if I can find anything that surprises me.

I read the greatest analysis of Sarah Palin’s nomination in the blog of cartoonist and writer Scott Adams. You can find his original article at

But I pulled my favorite quote here:

“Since selecting Palin, the discussion in the media and in kitchens across America has shifted from "Can you be too old to be President?" to "Can you be too young and inexperienced?" McCain has cleverly put his critics in the position of arguing that experience is a good thing. And McCain has more of it than Obama. If you believe that people only vote for presidents, not vice presidents, this was a clever move.”

This is politics, people. Time to wave your foam fingers and cheer for the home team. Are you ready for some football?

*I’m not going to say Christian conviction, because I haven’t yet seen her reference Christ anywhere.

Rock The Vote (or not)

I’d like to address something that has been gnawing at me for a while now. We’re coming up on election time in a few months, and already some ads are starting to come out. Not for Obama or McCain; those are to be expected. I’m talking about the neutral ads sponsored by the government aimed at getting young people out to vote. I don’t know why, but every time I see one of these ads, I flash back to middle school Social Studies classes. My impression is that these are the sort of ads 7th Graders come up with for extra credit, and they’re being solicited by our government. Remember those god-awful anti-drug PSAs that came out in the late 80s/early 90s? Those commercials that would pop up after school during "Tiny Toon Adventures" telling you “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

Just one. Did my tax-money finance that piece of shit?

It just tickles me to think about it. We are (or were, depending on who you talk to) an economic superpower. We supply 80 percent of the world’s entertainment, and we have one button that could, in theory, cast Life As We Know It back to the era of "The Flintstones," and this is the best we could come up with? Even “Whazzzup?!” was kind of clever for the first 5 minutes. The end result is that it’s not the government’s job to police behavior. It’s not written down in the Constitution, and even if it were, they clearly suck at it. Anybody needing a history refresher on that fact can flip in their textbooks back to the chapter on Nancy Reagan and “Just Say No.” Even her own husband dibbed and dabbed in the Devil’s Dandruff.

A few days ago, my iTunes automatically downloaded the latest offering from Rooster Teeth’s "Red vs. Blue" series. Anyone who’s watched it knows that it’s some of the funniest entertainment out there on the Internet. Every now and then, the canon story takes a week off and a PSA will come out instead. This time, the PSA was for real. Rooster Teeth, joining with Microsoft and whomever is in charge of making sure we all get out there and do our democratic duty, put out two PSAs espousing the importance of one vote and how important it is to vote. I’ll focus on the second one, because it’s the one I had a problem with.

The premise of this PSA was a pre-match lobby in "Halo 3," where all the players are gathering around, shooting the shit. Simmons, one of the players, is in charge of picking the type of game for this round and choses one of the most complicated game variants this side of Bridge. Everyone’s solidly against this choice, and moves to veto. However, one player is absent and returns too late to veto. The tagline is something to the effect of, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.

I’ve heard this line of logic when I was in High School. It was bullshit then, and it’s even more bullshit now. Penn Jillette, in a live show, mentions that, “...there’s one thing a totalitarian government cannot tolerate, it’s ambiguity. They don’t very much care about WHAT you believe as long as you all believe it together.” Right now, our government would have us believe that they’d rather you go out and vote just for the fuck of it than not vote for any of the reasons that you could conceivably think up. In that logic, it doesn’t matter who you vote for or for what reasons; the only thing that matters is that you’re doing it with everyone else. Sounds a lot like the scenario Mr. Jillette put forward, doesn’t it? In that line of logic, we are beholden to whatever the political parties of this country deem as a worthy leader, and if for some reason you don’t think any of the candidates are fit to run a car wash, let alone the Greatest Nation on Earth, then it’s just your tough luck. You have to pick someone...

Mr. Jillette has another catchphrase I’d like to pull out right now. (In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, almost all my wisdom comes from a carny magician in Vegas who very well be the smartest man in the country). He has said on more than one occasion, “The only way you can waste your vote is to vote.” At first, I thought it was cynicism, but in fact, it’s the very opposite of cynicism. At the end of an election, only three things matter: who voted for Candidate A, who voted for Candidate B, and all the other people who didn’t vote for whatever reason. Motive is the last thing they talk about, if they talk about it at all, when discussing the outcomes of an election. If I were to vote for Obama simply because I liked a tie he wore during a debate, that doesn’t come up. Similarly, if you were to vote for Obama simply because you disliked him less than John McCain, nobody cares! All that mattered was that your vote went for Obama. That’s how history would view your decision. Motive has no bearing on it.

However, every election we hear about the percentage of the population that didn’t vote. That percentage may be spoken of in a disappointed tone, but they are getting airtime saying that 53 or however many percent of the eligible population didn’t vote. Those numbers are little snippets that people latch on to. Voting simply because you feel you have to is intellectual adultery, and not the good kind of adultery, where there’s a chance your spouse or partner may join in the sexy fun when you’re found out.

So if, come November, you find that you’re not impressed with Barack Obama or John McCain or Bob Barr or Ralph Nader or anyone else that may be on the ticket, here’s a thought: don’t vote for them. The lesser of two evils is still evil, and the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Web Link of the Year

Hello everyone,

I’m writing this one after coming out of a neat little post on Reason Magazine’s Hit and Run blog. Since I’m running on a Mac (Whoo Hoo!), I get blog updates sent right to my e-mail, and I spend some time every night cleaning out the ones I’m not interested in reading. The one that caught my eye was “Penn Jillette Hate Crime”. Naturally, I clicked on it because I’m a huge Penn fan and was curious as to the subject of the posting. What I found is enough information to keep me occupied for hours.

It turns out that due to the Freedom of Information Act (a law with a good heart, but needs to get out and exercise more), a website has been set up to collect documents de-classified and are now a part of public record. This website, recently posted several complaints filed by citizens just like you or me, except with massive amounts of free time and seemingly digesting Crazy in pill form, to the FCC for offensive and indecent material. The subject of the Reason blog was that many people (okay, more like a few dozen) came out against a "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" episode that aired during their third season. The title of the episode was “Holier Than Thou” and criticized the saintly appearance of Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi, and the Dali Lama. Apparently, people (Catholic people, mind you) were grossly offended that such a person could be treated such a way, and asked for all sorts of amends to heal the wounds. Oddly enough, people only ran to the defense of Mother Teresa, but that’s another story.

The complainers claimed that the show was attacking Catholicism, some even likening it to Nazi propaganda against Jews. One offended person even pointed to Penn’s use of the phrase “fucking cunts” to a group of nuns. First of all, having seen the episode, the material therein criticizes people from three different religions and only criticizes the actions those people take. For example, Mother Teresa took money from very shady people and used it to set up a home for the suffering and dying. Note that it’s just a “home” for these afflicted people, not a place where they could get medical help. She even said that people have to suffer in order to experience Christ, and said that AIDS-riddled countries should not turn to contraceptive devices to protect them. Ghandi, while preaching non-violence, harbored racial discriminations against African people (common for the time) and had some “sexual weaknesses”, as acknowledged by his own grandson. The Dali Lama was an ousted dictator trying to get his land back. All these criticisms show that the people we regard as saintly were, very much, human. Religion doesn’t come up for the most part.

Next, if you’re reading this, I can only assume that the phrase “fucking cunts” (never thought I’d use that word twice in one post) got your attention, especially being thrown at nuns. Here’s why that argument gets blown out of the water: the person watching and complaining was caught up in the sensationalism of the phrase and who it was directed at. To be fair, Penn uttered the phrase behind a mouth-gag after a group of nuns tied him and Teller up with ropes and ran away. First of all, everyone in that shot is acting. The nuns aren’t real nuns, but actresses dressed up to look like nuns. Who knows if they’re even Christian?! Penn & Teller aren’t really getting tied up, but are being tied up for the camera and released after the director yells “Cut!” So this is obviously just a show, but if you’d like to take it at face value, I’ll go even further. I don’t care who you are, if you were violated like that, it would provoke a mean response. Drawing from my own experience, I said some words I’m not particularly proud of using after being mugged while walking home last year. I’m not going to repeat them, but rent the movie "Blazing Saddles" and you’ll get my drift. I don’t think I’d ever use that word in my regular day-to-day life, but being put in an extreme situation made me call upon what I thought to be the most barbed and vicious thing I could think of in order to get back at my attackers. In fact, I’ll go one step beyond that: if my own sainted mother were to tie me up in and anger and censorship, like was demonstrated on the Penn & Teller show, I would use words I’d never even think about using to her face in any other situation. That is traditional human response, part of the survival techniques built into our brains over millions of years of evolution. But either way, it doesn’t matter because the situation was fake, those words scripted, and said in a matter not to degrade or humiliate, but to lash out at an attacker.

Also, in response to the “Nazi Propaganda” comments, I have a few choice words to say. I know this sounds worse than it is, but nobody chose to be black, white, yellow, or red. Those are the circumstances of our birth and they are nothing more than random. In the case of Jewish people, there is a culture associated with being Jewish, a culture that is separate from the religious beliefs of Judaism. Catholicism is not a culture, but a set of ideas one chooses to believe in, and a set of ideas can always be challenged. Nazis believed that Jews as a people were inferior. Penn & Teller (and myself) think that Catholicism is misguided and incorrect. You cannot bash Catholics for the simple fact of being Catholic, but you can and should question and criticize what they believe in.

Anyway, this is the meat of what I’m getting at. I’ll post my favorite pdf files at the end of this blog. Download them and read them, please. It shows you just how stupid people can be at times, and it confirms many notions about the kind of person who would write a letter like the kind contained in these files: self-centered, controlling, ignorant of other concepts but their own, and grammar-challenged. I’d like you to read these for yourself and get your own take on their content (it also helps if you’re a fan of the show, so you can provide context), but I’ll add my favorite passages with a rebuttal just for kicks. Keep tuning in to see the pile of stupidity expand...

Finally, I’d like to end with a letter of my own. (ahem...)

"Dear People With Too Much Time On Your Hands

We, as a nation, appreciate your sense of righteousness and vigilantism that compels you to your word processors in order to voice your dissatisfaction with a certain TV program. That type of bravado and moxy must’ve been felt by the Founding Fathers as they took a stand against taxation-without-representation all those years ago. But in all seriousness, shut your collective traps.

There is no law that says we as a people have the right to not be offended. Being offended is part of the human condition, a side-effect of our consciousness and the direct result of being able to believe and value different things. While there are things in this country that we’ve collectively agreed upon as being immoral (killing, stealing, racism, sexism), there are many other things that our individual morality will guide us on. And your morality may differ from my morality in certain ways. Just because something offends your sense of decency doesn’t automatically make it evil.

Remember that you are talking about television programs: people who, for the most part, don’t exist doing things that do not have a direct impact on your daily lives. A television doesn’t have arms to strangle you, or to pick up a gun and shoot you. It cannot change the channel on its own whim, or make a contestant pick the $1,000,000 case on "Deal or No Deal." Much the same way a car needs a driver to go anywhere, the television doesn’t operate without a viewer to watch it.

Therefore, if you come across a type of program that you don’t like, turn it off. If you can’t condone it being on television, don’t watch that channel anymore, even if it shows your favorite program. Don’t patronize the advertisers if you want to take it that far. Or, use the technology installed in many television sets and DVRs to automatically block out any show that has violence, language, or sex if that’s the bubble you want to live in. You, the consumer, have more power than you realize. There are measures in place that would keep even over-the-air channels blocked if you didn’t want to see programming on a particular station. You also have the almighty “Off” button as well. I would like to point out that even though we did watch the murder of a live person on television (Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby on live TV), society hasn’t crumbled yet, but I digress.

We don’t all share the same worldview. People are going to disagree with you as they are going to disagree with me. However, the difference between me and you is that while you demand your worldview be appeased, I try to change minds through the power of argument and evidence, the difference between a grand piano and a kazoo. So, if you’re offended, be offended and deal with it.* Take your own personal steps to rid the corruption from your life, but don’t rain on someone else’s parade because you have a hangup against language, sex, or violence. You may not like it, but believe it or not, somebody else might want to see it."

*Or get a website of your own and complain as loudly as I do on a regular basis.

Abstinence: The New Kink on the Block

There are people who can’t get laid. Not for all the tea in China; not for all the lobster in Maine. Not even if the life of his or her sainted mother is on the line. It just so happens you are listening to one of those people right now. Now, I’m not using this space to rant about how much I’m not getting or to make my blue balls any lighter, I’m just saying that I’m an involuntary virgin. It’s not my choice to be celibate, and as you can imagine, it sucks. With that in mind, you will probably be shocked to realize that there are people keeping it in their pants by choice! These people are part of a new movement called “abstinence,” and it’s being taught to kids across the country as the way to deal with their sexual urges. It is the only program endorsed by the President (check it out), and many sex-ed programs you find in your local schools funded by the government teach abstinence only.

You may be wondering why I jumped on this topic all of a sudden. Well, I was flipping through the television early a few mornings ago and landed on the Today Show. There, they did a segment where abstinence advocates came on and discussed why abstinence is a good thing. Merideth Vierra tried to throw some things back at these guests (read: losers), but honestly, the Today Show is not the best avenue for debate and discussion; little pissant internet sites are. So grab your torches and your pitchforks, cause we’re going on a riot!

Abstinence, in the context of sex ed, teaches its students to not participate in sexual activity until some arbitrary cutoff point, the most common of which is marriage. The classes, and the guests on the Today Show, claimed that they were empowering young people, and telling them that they have a choice (and then they inadvertently take that choice away by telling you what to do). Advocates of abstinence claim that it is the only, 100% effective way to stop pregnancy and disease, and that the teenagers who learn it lead happier, more fulfilling lives by making pledges to not have sex until whenever.

At least, that’s what they say. Hear that noise? It’s the train coming to plow over this stalled car of a concept in the middle of the railroad tracks.

For starters, I don’t have a problem with the abstinence, as long as it is your choice and your terms. If you want to save your virginity for the person whom you think is your soulmate, I wish you the best of luck in the world because you are taking control over your body and your life. The issue comes when “only” is introduced into the equation. Abstinence Only means that you’re being taught an instantaneous, intellectual reaction whenever anything sexual comes up. You are taught to shut those urges down, and move on to something else. It reminds me a whole lot of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. How’s that workin’ out for ya?

Knee-jerk reactions are not the way to teach children about their changing bodies. When you speak about sex education, the key word there is education! Teenagers need to learn the facts about what’s going on, what could happen to them, and the wide variety of options available to deal with these newfound urges. Abstinence Only programs ignore the subject of safe sex and condom use, masturbation, or non-penetrative, safe ways to engage in sexual activity with a willing partner. Instead, they tell you to just say no, and while I applaud people who have tremendous willpower, in this case, you’re fighting Mother fucking Nature. When you hit a certain age, the hormones and pheromones in your body kick in, and your body starts to want to procreate. While that doesn’t mean you have to spread for everybody, you still need to know what is happening, why, and how one can safely relieve that pressure without winding up diseased or with another little human being who’ll do the same thing to you. Abstinence equals ignorance, in more ways than one.*

They are right about one thing: abstinence is the only, 100% way to avoid getting pregnant or getting a disease. However, that’s like avoiding getting mugged by never leaving your house. What a lot of kids are not being taught is that a properly used latex barrier prevents pregnancy and STDs 99.9% of the time. In other words, all the time. You have about as much of a chance of an ATM spitting out 100 extra dollars at you as you do of getting a condom that doesn’t work. Of course, abstinence programs focus on the 0.1% chance you do have of getting a defective jimmy, but even then, it doesn’t guarantee pregnancy, but your chances of having something negative come out of it (no pun intended) increase to ....... This is the sort of education that our children aren’t getting in abstinence programs.

The only silver lining to take from this is that abstinence programs, by and large, are failing. 

It may be difficult to grasp for people raised in old-fashioned families, but sex is a natural part of growing up. You learn more about yourself and what you like when you engage in sexual activity. Sex can also be a method of expression, just like writing, music, or any other form of art you can think of. In the interest of full disclosure, I do see myself as a parent in the years to come, and hopefully with a daughter. While my parental instinct would want to shield my child from whatever negative influences there are out there and keep her young and innocent forever, I am a realistic person, and I know that teenagers want to have sex. It’s hardwired into our biology! Unlike the urge to do drugs or listen to bad music, sexual feelings are perfectly natural and almost unavoidable. As a parent, the wisdom I’d want to pass on is “know thyself.” Know that you have a choice, and you are the one who makes it. I’d want my child to have all the facts about sex, pregnancy, and disease so when the time comes, he or she is best informed to make the best decision, not scared out of his or her wits by a Boogeyman that I imposed on his or her psyche.

I’m not trying to tell everyone how to raise their kids, but I am trying to make a plea for education to return to the classrooms. Leave the fear-mongering to the White House and the churches, and teach our children the reality of their situation.

*Some abstinence programs have gone so far as to say that you can get AIDS from kissing and that oral sex can lead to pregnancy. And my parents told me that if I told a lie, I’d turn to stone, too.

If you’re interested, take a look at the following sites and see what you think:

-This is a site that champions abstinence and conservative values. If you look hard enough, you’ll find that I disagree with almost everything they say. But in the interest of fairness, here’s their argument, with some science to back it up.

This PDF file is a published report in 2001 about condom use and its effectiveness. It’s long and jargon-laced, but I was able to pull out a quote, with page numbers to make sure I’m staying within context:

“FDA researchers have also developed an assay for condom leakage using high 

concentrations of a laboratory virus (78). The laboratory virus penetration assay 

is not used routinely as a quality control test, but its sensitivity and relevance are 

arguably greater than the conventional water leakage test. Using this virus 

assay, FDA scientists tested many different types of male condoms and showed 

that condoms are highly effective barriers to virus passage with a very small 

chance of leakage (76, 77). Intact condoms (i.e., pass the water leak test) are 

essentially impermeable to particles the size of STD pathogens (including the 

smallest sexually transmitted virus, hepatitis B). Moreover, these studies show 

that fluid flow, not virus size, is the most important determinant of viral passage 

through a hole. Even holes many times larger than the virus impeded fluid flow 

such that few of the test particles passed through (78). “ Page 7

The interesting thing is that the conservative site above used this as evidence for their case...

-Here’s a page from the Washington Post published in April of 2007, giving conflicting findings. My only complaint of this article is that it doesn’t give the study that it cites.