aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, August 14, 2006
The way fundamentalism & sex interact
It’s hard to get them out of my head. Here’s the story if you missed it: Iraqi Islamists are threatening shepherds with violence if they don’t clothe their goats with diapers to avoid tempting lonely shepherds. Another facet of the “new Middle East.” Yes, it’s funny. But it’s also revealing about the way fundamentalism and sex interact. What most male-run religious fundamentalisms include is a major exception for the hetero-male sex drive. Sex outside of missionary-position reproduction with legal wife/wives is officially verboten; but when frail male flesh gives in, the blame is almost always the object of desire - not the guy actually responsible. Hence: it’s the goat’s fault. The way they were dressed, they were asking for it.
So it’s not the men buggering the goats who need monitoring: it’s the goats and the shepherds for not covering them up sufficiently! As we know, holding straight men accountable for anything sexual is very tough in fundamentalist circles, be they Islamic or Christian. So Catholic priests and bishops were granted church and moral immunity for the rapes and molestations of thousands of minors for decades. The history of wayward pastors and priests getting away with sexual abuse and harassment is long and colorful. In many Islamic cultures, Women are deemed responsible for their own rape or molestation if they haven’t dressed modestly enough. Gay soldiers are to blame if straight men cannot help themselves and start buggering them in the shower. It’s never up to the straight guys to restrain themselves from getting a blow-job; it’s always up to the gay men not to offer temptation. Adultery, likewise, is almost always the woman’s fault in Islamist circles - and the women are the ones most often punished. The goat diapers are funny. But they are a function of a sexual pathology, maintained by religious norms, and all for sustaining the immunity of heterosexual males from the consequences of their sex drives - and the subjugation of women into near-slavery throughout many enclaves in the Muslim world. I don’t see much progress toward democratic culture in the Middle East until their deeply disturbed sexual culture gets healthier.
Bush admin official moonlights as a pundit on Fox News, PBS
Is she allowed to do that? a Post reader asks Al Kamen. Yes, he says, Labor Department deputy assistant secretary Karen Czarnecki is able to do political punditry on TV without running afoul of ethics regulations or the Hatch Act’s provisions on politics and government employees.
I’d say no. But just as much I want to know about the news organizations (Fox, PBS, MSNBC & CNN). They don’t identify her as working for the government.
The site [mpire.com], introduced in late June, allows shoppers to view the most recent selling prices of millions of items, based on data from eBay, then compare prices and other attributes on items selling on a handful of major sites, like Overstock, eBay, Craigslist and, starting today, Amazon.com.
For instance, someone searching for an iPod Nano with two gigabytes of memory would have seen last week that people paid $153, on average, for the item last month on eBay, and an average shipping price of $16.55. Mpire also displayed a graph of the average prices paid in each of the previous 30 days.
No listing yet for these:
Today, [Segway] plans to introduce two new machines, a street version known as the i2 and an all-terrain model, the x2, which can travel across dirt, gravel, grass or sand. They cost $4,995 and $5,495, respectively, hit maximum speeds of 12.5 miles per hour, and can run about 24 miles before their batteries need recharging.
According to Klee Kleber, Segway’s vice president for marketing, the new models have a technology called LeanSteer, which enables the vehicle to intuit whether the rider wants to go left or right.
I’m not seeing evidence of a single law broken here:
If the hundreds of prepaid cellular telephones found in the minivan seemed odd, the pictures of the Mackinac Bridge were downright troubling to Tuscola County law enforcement officials who have charged three Texas men with terrorism-related crimes.
The phones plus photographs and videos of the 5-mile-long bridge led authorities to believe that the men—two brothers and a cousin, all of Middle Eastern heritage—were targeting the iconic structure linking the Upper and Lower peninsulas, according to a law enforcement official familiar with details of the case.
While the bridge pictures might have been vacation images taken by any tourists, they took on potentially sinister significance because of the men’s bulk purchase at a Caro Wal-Mart of 80 talk-and-toss cell phones that have been used by terrorists to detonate bombs, the official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
But relatives of the Texas men said they’re innocent entrepreneurs buying phones cheaply at discount stores, then selling them at a profit.
The men—brothers Adham Othman, 21, and Louai Othman, 23, and their cousin Maruan Muhareb, 18—were charged by Tuscola County prosecutors over the weekend with providing material support for terrorist acts and terrorism surveillance of a vulnerable target, said Sgt. Curtis Chambers of the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department. They were each being held on $750,000 bond.
A Wal-Mart employee became suspicious and contacted police.
I note that only state charges have been filed. Still Chertoff is hinting he wants even more aggressive surveillance and arrest powers.
UPDATE (4 days later): Charges dropped.
Starwood on Aloft Island
Starwood Hotels & Resorts is launching its new Aloft Hotel in the virtual land of Second Life in September, months before the chain of hotels opens in real life. The brick-and-mortar version of the hotel, which caters to active, urban 30- to 50-year-olds, is set to roll out the red carpet sometime in 2008. The folks at Starwood are hoping the hotel attracts a lively bunch of avatars who like to mingle in the lobby and give feedback about the hotel. In this way, Second Life will help guide the earthbound hotel’s operations.