The trend in modern sexually-repressed conservative america these days, is to brainwash teenagers into proudly pledging abstinence, vowing to preserve their precious virginity for that special day where they’ll tie the knot… or get invited by the priest to join one of his exclusive, altar-boys-only, mass after-party…

In effect, promising to keep doing what they’d be doing anyway. That is: not getting any, for the entire duration of their ungrateful puberty phase.

After all, they are only following official government policy regarding “abstinence as the only viable way to prevent STDs“.

Well the bad news for the proud virgins is that, on top of not getting laid, they do catch sexually-transmitted diseases, as shown by a recent study of the sex lives of 12,000 US adolescents .

How can you catch an STD while — allegedly — not having sex?

Well, that’s the miracle of statistics (and hypocritical bigotry):

The data was gathered from young people aged 12 to 18 who were questioned again six years later.

According to the study, the STD rates were:

Whites who pledged virginity 2.8% – did not 3.5%

Blacks: pledgers 18.1% – non-pledgers 20.3%

Asians: pledgers 10.5% – non-pledgers 5.6%

Hispanics: pledgers 6.7% – non-pledgers 8.6%

The study’s authors say that from a statistical point of view, the rates are the same for both groups.

The explanation for these numbers does not take a genius or a statistician to figure out:

A good number of those teenager who had hastily claimed they’d never consider doing such icky sticky things, must have quickly changed their mind, once the acne wore out and they found out they actually could get a date… And when it got there, I guess it was too late to consider trading Sunday School for Sex-Ed…

Hence proving once more what most experts have been saying all along: shunning sex-ed in favor of abstinence campaigns is not only gonna produce more morbidly stuck-up conservative morons, it will also help spreading AIDS and other STDs.

Performing a methodical dismantling of Dubya’s last interview to point out the usual million blatant inaccuracies and other flat-out lies, is a hopeless exercise, the futility of which doesn’t escape me…

However, it is fascinating to note how, despite the widely-known fact that he very much dodged the draft, George thinks himself as a “War president“. In fact, he did not mind using the word “war” more than twenty times during the interview, the SF Chronicle reports.

Some people might be tempted to point out that being a “war president” is not exactly a title of pride. But it seems that, in this man’s warped conception of the world, waging improbable wars and raising “alert” levels every other week so as to keep your people in a perpetual state of paralytic anxiety, is a perfectly fine program in itself for a presidential mandate. One would have thought that working on, say, keeping budget deficit under control, fighting unemployment and soaring poverty rates: these would be deemed worthy of making the first-place in a president’s list of achievement; or even: salvaging the last remaining shreds of environmental protection laws that have been so viciously dismembered by his administration over the past three years (like this one’s gonna happen…).

But obviously, there is a much more important priority for the US: “War”.

See, despite appearances, “War” is not just a good pretext to hide all your dirty influence peddling back at home, while a few hundred US GIs and ten times more foreign civilians get blown to pieces: it is also meant to “protect” the American people. From what? certainly not the categorically-imminent-but-not-so-imminent threat of Saddam’s WMD-that-exist-or-will-exist-as-soon-as-we-manage-to-plant-them-somewhere.

From what then? but, why: from terrorism of course!

Remember: all along, we’ve only been going after a single enemy: Terrorism. Protecting sacrosanct american values of [non-dissenting] free speech and right to bear an AK-47 while parking our gas-guzzling SUV, against evildoers from abroad.

But, some may point: it’s now been more than two years, and nothing, absolutely nothing, has happened in the US, not the slightest attempt at bombing a Taco Bell or anything of any remotely symbolic value, in the name of Allah or some other unshaved non-christian pagan god.
Of course, there’s been waaay more than 4,000 violent US deaths in the past year alone, but these were all due to good ol’ american way of crime, nothing involving nasty furriner’s plots.

In this case, inquisitive minds may increasingly inquisitively inquire, why are we still talking about “war against terrorism”? when it seems so obvious “terrorism” has gone on vacation to some warmer coast and left it up to the US to kill themselves skillfully as they’ve always been good at.

Well, rather than referring you to the painfully obvious truth or Dubya’s even more painfully contorted justifications, here is a little joke…

There’s this guy carefully placing ping-pong balls every 5 feet on the ground around Time Square, when another guy comes up to him and ask ” – Say, why are you putting these ping-pong balls all around?”
” – to keep the rhinos away…”
” – but there’s no rhino here!”
” – see, it works!”

You knew it? yea, me too… but apparently G. W. Bush does not, seeing as he’s been playing variations of it in every last one of his speech for the past two years…

… when you have that:

Japan Another Babylon
Posted 05 November 2003 – 11:39 AM
All of these things seem to be happening in Japan. Japan is possibly another babylon. Japan has frequent earthquakes too. Maybe also a sign. All of the worlds technology seems to thrive from Japan. The funny thing is, is that I feel led to goto the Japanese people. I am pursueing that right now. In the near future I plan on transfering within my company to Japan. God has laid them on my heart. I am currently studying japanese, and God has put me in contact with at least 3 japanese people who are in the US or Japan. Japan in very wicked, I don’t need to go into the Violence or sexuality they portray blatently in there movies and ANIME. As I stated in my “matrix” theory. Japan is a very industrialized nation. They have almost no forest left, everyone lives in apt. technology has taken over thier lives. And I fear America will soon be in the same boat. Pray for me as I strive to do Gods will, and reach out to the japanese people.

OK. Granted making fun of hardcore literal-minded christians is like shooting fish in a holy water font. Especially the kind who do not mind using the word “wicked” in its non-second-degree, we’ll-burn-you-to-the-stake, medieval acception, while keeping a straight face.

But nonetheless, it’s refreshing to know that there are people out there with real concerns about the direction things are going in this world and the soul of these “poor unsaved Asian people”.

And by the way, which country do you think has the highest statistics for murders, robberies, violent crimes and other nasty things most definitely reproved by the official christian rules book and by any decent gentleman in general? And in what segment of this population can we find the most vociferous proponents of unregulated gun ownership?

Yea, that’s what I thought too.

This interesting text points out the increasingly frequent habit with major media outlets of turning provable facts into mere “quotations” coming from the mouth of political opponents… For example, the fact that the US budget has gone from massively in excess less than four years ago to one of the biggest deficit in US history, is no longer a fact backed by hard cold official numbers: It is a “charge” made by political opponents:

The forecast comes as Democrats campaigning to run against President Bush charge that he has turned a surplus into a deficit.

The all too common story of how newspapers can distort objective information under the dubious pretense of “keeping viewpoints balanced”.

If you were to eat ramen in a trendy Japanese restaurant in Greenwich Village, should you slurp your noodles in?

Should you adopt Japanese ramen-eating customs or conform to geography-based local ones that say you are not supposed to make loud slurping noise when eating?

Maybe I should cut down on cough medicine for today.

If I hear one more mashed-up xmas carols mix-cd, I’m gonna puke all over your freakin’ hello-kitty-decorated christmas trees, OK?

Ah Joy of Christmas, this long awaited time of peace, harmony and crass commercialism…

But let’s not get overly negative. After all, I’ll take pachinko employees flyering in zebra-print santa uniforms any day over Walmart’s cheap plastic dancing santas and nauseating hallmark cards. And talking about Wal-Mart, I still have a hard time getting over this stupid news bit relating that walmart christmas sale’s stampede, about a week ago. Though the woman supposedly “badly injured” apparently turns out to be a serial-faker, I don’t think I could imagine a more degrading story to go with an injury. God: I’d sooner tell the medics how I accidentally burnt my nuts in a freak late-night naked arc-welding accident, rather than having to tell how I got trampled by a herd of middle-aged obese Floridian housewives while clutching at some discounted taiwanese DVD player, lying on the floor of the local walmart.

Well, according to the news, she recovered quickly and the gentle employees at walmart kept her one of the coveted discounted DVD player. I guess we all get the kind of heartwarming christmas stories we deserve…

The good thing about picking such an intangible invisible enemy as “terrorism”, is that you never have to spend too much time justifying your wars and your actions. “Terrorists”, much like “communists” a few decades ago, can surface anywhere and take on any appearance.
Although they preferably do not dress like us and probably do not celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving. Ideally, their skin even has a different shade.

Declaring war on an invisible army force with, by definition, no way to assess your progress, is very convenient for two reasons:

First, because there’s nothing like a good war to help people forget about other less palatable aspects of your policies. Bush’s government is only the last of a long line of variously skilled politicians who have waged some improbable war and based their entire political agenda on this premise.

If we look on the American side, we got everything from the 50’s war on commies up until the would-be-laughable (if not for the countless lives it has destroyed, both in the US and abroad): “war on drugs“…

While there’s no need to go over the futility and hopelessness of the latter war, one thing bears reminding about the cold-war and one of its long-term consequences: following 1979’s invasion of Afghanistan by soviet forces, the US directly provided both military and financial support to resistance troops. The very same people that would, a decade later, take over the country and instigate one of the most oppressing Islamic dictatorship of all times, while apparently backing Al Qaeda operations… But more on that later.

Has anybody noticed to what extent domestic policies have been reduced to an overt game of back-patting self-gratification between white-house cronies, while at the same time receiving close to no media coverage?

I guess it’s much more exciting to report about the glorious advance of the War on Terrorism, rather than, say, focus on Bush’s catastrophic environmental policies or his frighteningly medieval AIDS prevention program based on… “abstinence”…

All in all, Bush’s buddies hardly bother hiding their cynical agenda: they know no one’s watching and hardly anyone cares, ’cause that whole war stuff is so much more exciting.

The other reason why you would want to start a war with enemies you can’t count is precisely that you can’t win it… There’s an infinite supply of evildoers to ensure your “war” never comes to an untimely end, suddenly bringing back the public’s short spanned-attention onto your lucrative little business of cronyism and embezzlement…

Of course, in order to avoid unpopular messy wars, this strategy requires quickly jumping from one opponent to the next, forcefully fitting entirely unrelated countries under a common description of “axis of evil”…

And to a point, it works: nobody (read: no mainstream media) seems to have noticed how quickly Afghanistan disappeared from the US focus and how, beside a few gas pipelines quickly restored and put back to work, nothing much has changed in war-torn Afghanistan ever since… Why did everyone forget so quickly about the original goals of the campaign in Afghanistan that seemed so clear at the time (“eradicate Al Qaeda”, “find Osama Ben Laden”, “rebuild the country”)? Simply because, just when it started being a bit more complicated than dropping bombs and shooting a few underarmed disheveled fanatics, when it started being about building stuff and organizing and investing important amount of money in a country with little promise for immediate return (remember: no oil there), then the US government understood it was time to get the hell away, let the UN deal with the mess and move onto the next target… Which happened to be the good old arch nemesis of yore: the evil Sadam Hussein!

And that’s where the invisible-enemy strategy choked on a serious bone and showed its flaws: when you can’t see your enemies, it’s much harder to beat them, especially if they start actually materializing into real, concrete, people with good reasons to kick your ass and wide support from their country.

Most people (including me, I must admit) were somewhat expecting this to happen in Afghanistan, as there’s a very famous historical precedent. But the US military were quite careful not to make the exact same mistake that cost the USSR its worst military defeat ever. There was close to no ground engagement in Afghanistan, and the US backed pretty much anybody willing to say they disliked Al Qaeda, giving them weapons and telling them to go take care of the bad guys for them, thus making room for the next generation of US-equipped violent factions that will backfire in a few years. But at the time, it worked out well, as the dreaded guerilla war that proved fatal to Soviet troops twenty years ago was avoided.

But there wasn’t such an option in Iraq: against a real country with a somewhat real army, the US had no other choice than to engage completely and send ground troops. Plus, this time, they had a much more specific agenda regarding the use of local resources (let’s liberate the oil derricks) that required real involvement, not just a few bombs casually dropped here and there. The problem came when, after getting rid of a bunch of thinly-motivated Iraqi regular troops, they had to deal with other people who had their own agenda (anti-US, pro-islamic etc) and much more determination to carry it through.

This is how the loop has been looped and now the US faces the same exact problem which the Soviet faced two decades ago: myriads of invisible partisans that do not care for their life and can easily get their hand on semi-heavy weapons (the ones the US provided them with, back when we still liked them better than their evil Iranian neighbours) that are all too sufficient to inflict continuous, relentless damages to occupation forces. If you’ve read any account of the Soviet-Afghan war, you will have noticed how strikingly similar the attacks are: a few people with a rocket-launcher can down a lot of planes or helicopters without much effort. The Afghans have done it successfully for years, and so are the Iraqis now.

On one side, a bunch of regular militaries in a foreign country, on the other side, guerilla fanatics with an increasingly wide popular support (due mostly to US ruthless behaviour toward civilians during the invasion)… Odds -and time- are working strongly against the US. And it’s not hard to see the specter of an Afghan-style defeat looming over the horizon (Vietnam being not too far either, although the involvement levels are definitely not comparable).

Just as a note: although there hardly ever was a single real “battle” fought on Afghan territory during the Afghan-Soviet war, the Soviet lost a total of more than 25,000 troops over their decade of occupation, before completely withdrawing in 1989…

Continued in some next entry

in the meantime, you can always read this rather funny piece about why “White House No Longer Uses Orwell and Machiavelli as ‘Consultants'”

Late night discussion subjects with Harold yesterday (lengthily and passionately argued over for hours until 4 this morning)…

Among many others, we went over (less and less focused and informed, as the discussion kept advancing):

1/ Is there any point in using an appropriately trained neural network for type-specific music compression over a regular algorithm?

2/ Is any task performed by a neural network more or less isomorphic to an interpolation function?

3/ Is any given neural network always replaceable by a definable iterative algorithm?

4/ Is the brain replaceable by an iterative algorithm?

5/ Is neuron transmission a discrete discontinuous function?