August 7th, 2012

The Olympics: Better Than They Looked On The Tin ...

Charlie Brooker Casts His Eye Over The London 2012 Olympics ...

I think he speaks for many of us on this one. Few Brits seemed enthusiastic about the games in the 7 year build up. We appear to have risen to the occasion.

Thanks, Olympics, for confounding my inner cynic. In the run up to the Games, I was expecting the whole thing to be little more than a festival of trademarks. The papers were full of stories about jackbooted brand police waterboarding 80-year-old women who had knitted unofficial "London 2012" bobble hats for their grandkids. Locog stormtroopers prowled the streets, machine-gunning anyone who so much as dared to picture the Olympic rings in their mind's eye without paying £25bn in advance for the inner-life sponsorship rights. Then they announced plans to ban non-Olympic vehicles from every single road in the capital apart from Horn Lane in Acton, which meant people were going to be forced to drive their cars through buildings and rivers and way up into the sky just to get to work.

Everything was terrible. And then the Games began and suddenly everything sort of wasn't. The opening ceremony helped, with its mix of spectacle and eccentricity. I was in America, watching NBC's widely mocked time-shifted coverage, which dropped the Abide With Me section in favour of Ryan Seacrest interviewing Michael Phelps. Seacrest is America's answer to Ant and Dec, but less so. Imagine someone used a computer to combine Ant and Dec into one body, then accidentally leant on the keyboard and deleted their imaginations.

Presumably the glimpse of Phelps was deemed necessary because he was missing from the opening parade, resting his gills on the eve of his first swim. The parade of nations goes on a bit, although NBC gave it some additional bite thanks to commentator Bob Costas, who sat in his box pissing on every country passing beneath him. From him, I learned that Bangladesh is the most heavily populated country to have never won a medal, that Madagascar's achievements pale into insignificance compared to its indirect association with Madagascar the CGI cartoon, and that Kiribati has no regularly scheduled flights to Honolulu. He greeted Pakistan and Iran like suspected paedophiles arriving at a barbecue, and as the Egyptian team strode into the stadium, waving and smiling, he dissed the Arab spring. "From military dictatorship to Jeffersonian democracy? Not exactly."

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Louisiana School Forces Students to Take Pregnancy Tests

Louisiana School Forces Students to Take Pregnancy Tests, Kicks Out Girls Who Refuse Or Test Positive

By Tara Culp-Ressler

One Louisiana school is dealing with the state’s high rates of teen pregnancy by taking an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. No pregnant students are welcome at Delhi Charter School in Delhi, Louisiana — a policy that the institution enforces by requiring students who are “suspected” of being pregnant to submit to a mandatory pregnancy test.

If students are pregnant, they are no longer allowed to attend classes on the school’s campus and will be forced to either switch to another school or begin a home school program. If a student refuses to take the test, she is “treated as a pregnant student” and also kicked out of Delhi Charter School, according to the student handbook:

If an administrator or teacher suspects a student is pregnant, a parent conference will be held. The school reserves the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not the suspected student is in fact pregnant. The school further reserves the right to refer the suspected student to a physician of its choice. If the test indicates that the student is pregnant, the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School.

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Porn Trial: How Consenting Sex May Be Illegal in the UK

Here’s a perfect illustration of how authoritarians make use of moral panics to persuade people that personal freedoms must be monitored and attacked by the state.

In 2003, a Brighton teacher called Jane Longhurst was killed by Graham Coutts. Coutts claimed that she had died during consenting sexual asphyxiation play, but the prosecution suggested that the two had not been lovers, and that she had been raped and murdered. He was convicted of murder and imprisoned. Much attention in the trial focused on Coutts’ interest in asphyxiation, and on his possession of pornographic images depicting this.

Although no evidence was provided to show that the porn had led Coutts to kill Longhurst (and indeed, such porn has become widespread without an increase in such crimes), a moral panic began over “violent porn”. The Labour government, already hugely authoritarian in many ways, first tried to ban web sites carrying “violent pornography”. When this moronic attempt at censorship failed, their next approach was even more authoritarian: to ban the possession of “violent” pornographic imagery. This was put into law as Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, better known as the Violent Porn Law.

Starting from the killing of one woman, and based on unfounded rumours that her killing had been linked to pornography, the UK government had instituted one of the most draconian pieces of legislation in recent British history. Now, a person could be imprisoned for downloading or possessing on video or DVD any pornography that might breach the law, even if they were unaware of the law’s existence.

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Knives for a pro.

Physician Advises Against Bikini Waxing, Calls To End 'War Against Pubic Hair'

Bikini waxing, "vajazzling" or jeweled decoration of the genitals, waxing, shaving and removal of pubic hair are all becoming increasingly popular among young people. But some doctors are opposing the "war against pubic hair" and are trying to highlight the possible dangers of these activities.

Dr. Emily Gibson, director of the student health center at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., shed light on the trend in an article for the medical website She writes, "Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles, leaving microscopic open wounds. Frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that is combined with the warm, moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest bacterial pathogens."

Gibson adds that pubic hair is meant to protect the genitals from infection and removal increases the chances of not only yeast and bacterial infections but also the chances of sexually transmitted diseases.

According to a report in The Independent, the U.S. hair removal market is estimated to be worth $2.1 billion, propelled by the hairless image of celebrities and the increasing popularity of bikinis and thongs.

Gibson also warns that "hair, like crabgrass, always grows back and eventually wins." In her experience as a physician, she finds more and more patients with infections on their genitals resulting from attempts to keep them free of pubic hair.

She urges people to understand the importance of pubic hair by saying, "(It) does have a purpose, providing a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, and protection from bacteria. It is the visible result of adolescent hormones and certainly nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about."

The report was backed by several other doctors and provides a good advice to the youth of today amongst whom the popularity of bikini waxing and decoration of the genitals is increasing.

International Business Times

Romney Attempts To Bond With Americans Over Fast Food; Shows Privilege Again Instead

Mitt Romney has made no secret of his love for fast food—and it appears he inherited that taste from his dad.

Speaking to supporters at a Chicago fundraiser Tuesday, Romney recognized a member of the audience who had worked at McDonald's, based in nearby Des Plaines, for 27 years—including with the chain's founder, Ray Kroc.

That prompted Romney to tell a story about his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, and what he'd found peeking through his father's "top drawer" as a teenager when he was rooting around for spare change.

"I found a little paper card, a little pink card, and it said this entitles George W. Romney to a lifetime of a hamburger, a shake and french fries at McDonald's," Romney said, according to a pool report. "It was signed by the hand of Ray Kroc. My dad had done a little training lesson or whatever for McDonald's when there was just a handful of restaurants, and I saw this thing and was like, 'This is a gold mine, dad! What are you doing?'"

Once he got over the shock, Romney said he had the card laminated for his father.

"My dad, as you know, would go almost every day to a McDonald's restaurant and get either a hamburger or a fish filet sandwich," Romney said. "And he would present this little card and of course the person behind the counter would look and say, 'Well, what is that?' They'd never seen something like that, but he said it was never turned down. They always honored it."


Yes, it's endearing that your family used a free food card even though you could afford enough for a full capacity room's worth of patrons.