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Archives for November, 2005

November 29, 2005

And presto: relevance

Daniel Radosh

To: Stephen E. Flynn, Lawrence M. Wein
From: New York Times Op-Ed editor
Re: Today's essay

I think the news peg could be just a wee bit stronger. See what you think of my proposed change below:

"This week President Bush will seek to focus the nation's attention on border security and immigration reform. However, we would like to write about a completely unrelated issue: But the president's proposals won't protect Americans from our gravest cross-border threat: the possibility that a ship, truck or train will one day import a 40-foot cargo container in which terrorists have hidden a dirty bomb or nuclear weapon."

November 28, 2005

Plus, the Angel Sparks biker character was originally going to be a firefighter named Burning Bush

Daniel Radosh

Gawker would have you believe that Vanessa Grigoriadis's New York magazine feature on Peter Braunstein "doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know." But a chill ran down this reader's spine upon encountering the following description of the Fire Fiend's fashion foibles: "In this environment it was normal for people to be working a persona, but no one quite got Braunsteinísóthe Jheri-curl mullet, Huckapoo shirts, velvet blazers, an unironic briefcase (for shame!), and the daily parade of leather pants."

Now, it would not be a shock if Braunstein wore Huk-A-Poo shirts, but Huckapoo shirts? Who knew he was a fan?

And yet, reading the next sentence, I realized that this should not have been such a surprise after all: "To Braunstein, though, this was a carefully crafted exterior born of a deep engagement with sexual politics. Taken in graduate school with the concept of theatrical alter egos and 'role play' as the defining social experience of the mod eraóthe wigs, the charadelike dances, the ever-changing looks of Twiggy and Brigitte Bardot..." The puzzle pieces fall into place.

Which is why I urge police to search for Braunstein in Connecticut, where he is evidently writing for Westport magazine under the name Sherri Daley. A cover story no less ó maybe he really is the finest journalist of his generation.

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In a typically diabolical taunting of Grigoriadis, Braunstein, in his "Daley" persona (as opposed to his "nightly" one? Memo to self: too late for that semiotics degree?), actually lifts every bit of information in his Huckapoo article from an earlier one in Grigoriadis's own magazine. The alleged Swahili origins of the band's name, the cold "choice" the girls are offered about the name, the "this is not a democracy" soundbite. While only a short excerpt from the article is available online, I can safely state that it doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know.

Further proof that Daley is really Braunstein: "her" article definitely includes one of those "nice grace notes" that Grigoriadis identifies as a Braunstein hallmark, to wit: "Brooke looks and acts years older than she is." Confidential to B.L.: Hahahahaha!

November 28, 2005

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #30

Daniel Radosh

Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for contest index.

Let's face it, people: we're all going to have to start doing a lot worse around here. The finalists of the actual New Yorker contest #27 (parrot meeting) have been announced, and they're far less funny than the vast majority of your anti-captions. Of course, I don't actually want you to submit captions that are quite that boring or this contest will become as tedious as the real one, but let's just say your competitors over at the New Yorker have set the bar for lousy captions pretty high.

In fact, you might want to consider entering your anti-captions into the real contest too, just to see what happens. For the new cartoon below, I came up with three bad captions to start you off, as usual. But I have this feeling that my third one is on the edge of being actually funny, so I'm submitting it here. You do the same with your not-quite-as-bad-as-they-should be captions and who knows, maybe next week, all three New Yorker finalists will have originated from this site. If you think it can't happen, just look at those parrot jokes again.

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"The good news is, it's not cancer. The bad news: the entire room is being erased starting from the upper right-hand corner."

"Can you pick up that pen for me? The man behind me has tied up my hands under the desk."

"I find he's even more persuasive than the diplomas."

Update: Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #30" »

November 27, 2005

"Goodbye, cruel world. PS: Fuck you, Dr. Silverberg."

Daniel Radosh

Letter to the editor of the New York Times Science section, emphasis added:

Re "A Self-Effacing Scholar Is Psychiatry's Gadfly" (Nov. 15) : A 14-year-old depressed patient climbed to the hospital roof and jumped off headfirst, breaking his neck.

I was the evaluating psychologist on that case 20 years ago and had previously reported his suicidal tendencies. But he was supposedly "stabilized" on drugs and, therefore, was given "grounds privileges" before he committed suicide....

Dr. Farrell Silverberg
Philadelphia
The writer is a psychologist and the author of "Make the Leap."

[Thanks to Gina for the tip]

November 24, 2005

Pillar of Salt

Daniel Radosh

Expanding on a thought at the end of this post, I've written an article today for Salon about teen killer(s) David Ludwig and Kara Beth Borden and the place of Christian rock in their lives.

November 23, 2005

The picture, at least, is worth the price of admission

Daniel Radosh

Over at Mediabistro, the lovely and talented Claire Zulkey conducts an interview with yours truly about my work habits or lack thereof. Just a little something to help get you through the long weekend (or make it longer).

November 23, 2005

What about "skanky fucktards"?

Daniel Radosh

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Today's Blue's News: "Teen People nixed a story about Hitler-loving teenybopper twins Prussian Blue ó amid outrage that the glossy had promised to avoid the words 'hate,' 'supremacist' and 'Nazi' in its piece on the racist singing sisters."

To be fair, they made the same promise to Hilary Duff.

[Previously on this topic]

November 22, 2005

Meanwhile, in Baghdad...

Daniel Radosh

Orlando columnist John Bersia attempts to be reassuring:

"That China channels a growing amount of its newfound wealth into military capabilities bears watching without necessarily signaling alarm. After all, the United States brandishes more might than any nation in history and has not chosen to dominate the world."

November 21, 2005

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #29

Daniel Radosh

Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for contest index.

Do your worst.

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"Psst! Is there a shady looking guy standing behind this map, roughly where I'm pointing? Just blink twice for yes."

"Our latest calculations show that by 2025, the giant paramacia will have completely taken over the central U.S., forcing the ladybugs to consolidate at the coasts, and thereby finally rending all lame red state/blue state jokes obsolete."

"You have the crappiest desk in Washington."

Update: Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #29" »

November 16, 2005

From here to White Castle

Daniel Radosh

It's not quite Peter Braunstein ubiquity (there are some things I will not do for attention, even to Lynx and Lamb), but my name does seem to be popping up on the Interweb a lot today. Well, twice, anyway.

First there's the half-assed stuff I told Jack Shafer for his article on the coming end of boomer media dominance. Honestly, I wish I'd said what Matt Labash did. Then there's a brief interview with me at Gelf about my newly re-relevant Borat article. My second Gelf appearance this month. And still no phone call from Warren.

A sick-of-it friend e-mailed me this from Mickey Kaus: "I once telephoned Peter Drucker, sometime in the early 90s, to try to pick his brain. Of all the experts and wonks I called when I was writing a magazine column, he's the only one who had the honesty to politely say (roughly) 'I'm sorry, but why should I give my ideas to you?' I had no answer for that. I've respected him ever since."

November 16, 2005

Are you ready?

Daniel Radosh

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Welcome to the next two years of my life. After a pretty intense few months of getting it exactly right, I've just submitted the proposal for my first book: Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Strange Pop Culture of the Religious Right. [Update: The new, more accurate subtitle is Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture.]

It's a first-person journey through the mirror universe of conservative evangelical entertainment and media ó written, as my agent assures publishers , "in a tone that is amusing yet respectful, entertaining yet thoughtful." I've already been having a lot of fun with it, and I'm pretty excited about going forward once it gets picked up. With luck, it should be in stores sometime around Summer, 2008.

Not sure how much I'll be talking about it here, but if you notice any extended absences, it probably means I'm at a rave, or a wrestling match, or a theme park somewhere, trying to figure out what the hell heck is going on.

November 15, 2005

Looks like someone forgot one of the shalt nots

Daniel Radosh

Evangelical blogger Bene Diction knew exactly what was coming after he found out that this week's tragic tabloid teens, Kara Beth Borden and David Ludwig, both had MySpace and Xanga sites. He tried to warn the media away. "Their blogs aren't the story," he wrote. "Platforms such as Xanga, My Space, are places were teens talk back and forth, much like most of us use phones... There is no 'blog' story here, this is a tragic case of teens wanting to be together and killing to get their own way... Lives are far more complicated than one angle, with millions of blogs, the statistical probabilities events will occur to put bloggers into the spotlight are the same as they'd be for a medium sized country... This isn't a story of home schooled teens online." He reminds readers a couple of times that the teens' blogs are "private" (though they don't seem to be).

At the time BD wrote that post, a few media outlets had mentioned the sites in their stories without further comment, but sure enough, the next day brought, Pennsylvania teens' weblogs reveal Christian faith, a 1,000 word piece on Spero News that links to the sites, quotes them extensively, and even notes their background colors. "To read their blogs is to look into a sub-world, a world of Christian contemporary music and searching for Jesus; a place where music speaks volumes to Pennsylvania home-schooled teens."

The author of this article? Why, it's Bene Diction, who was apparently just warning everyone else away from the story so he could have it for himself. What accounts for the change of heart? Back on his blog, BD says he wanted to "give them the dignity of their own voice." Mark my words, this man has a future in TV newsmagazines.

By the way, I happen to have a particular interest right now in the "sub-world" of Christian contemporary music and pop culture (more on that soon), and I'll be interested to see how the media studiously avoids trying to make any connection between Ludwig's pathology and his "obsession" with Pillar and Audio Adrenaline. Not that I think there is one. I'm sure there isn't. But imagine if his passions were Grand Theft Auto and Green Day. James Dobson would be issuing a press release as we speak.

November 14, 2005

Coincidentally, I keep by my side at all times a photo of Warren St. John. He's dreamy.

Daniel Radosh

Well, gosh. From a Gelf Magazine interview with New York Times Styles reporter Warren St. John:

GM: Lately, the Times has taken a lot of flak about bogus trend reporting. Whatís your reaction to that? Do you think any of your articles would fall into that category?
WSJ: I definitely hope not. I keep by my side at all times the GQ article that Daniel Radosh wrote back in 1998 called the Trendspotting Generation. Itís a great dissection of trend stories. I personally pride myself on neveróif I can help itónever writing a story I canít back up. Iím very skeptical of trend stories when I read them. Iím even more skeptical of wading into a trend story and coming up with the data I need to satisfy myself that something is happening. Sometimes I think the flaw of a lot of trend stories is simply overstating what they found. Sometimes people can find things that are interesting that arenít really trends. And thatís OK. It doesnít have to be a trend to be interesting to write about. It might be less significant and warrant A1 play less. But sometimes it just a question of dialing back the significance of what youíre saying your findings mean.


November 14, 2005

Mine was better! The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest rejection forum

Daniel Radosh

Two weeks ago, I introduced the New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest by asking, "if these won, how awful could the losing captions have been?" Since then, a number of you have said that you regularly submit captions that are better than the ones selected by the editors. Well, now's your chance to prove it.

In this new spin-off to the Anti-Caption Contest, you are invited to post captions you actually submitted to the actual New Yorker contest. This is not a contest itself ó just a forum for your unappreciated wit. This week, post your rejected captions for contest #26: Monster truck meets classical concert. Don't try to come up with something new now that you've seen how lame the finalists are. We want to see what the editors really passed up in favor of those finalists. You're on the honor system.

November 14, 2005

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #28

Daniel Radosh

Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for contest index.

How bad can New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest entries get? You tell me.

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Submit your worst caption in the comments section.

Starter captions:

"Excuse me, you dropped your briefcase."

"I'm a lawyer. I think, once that's stated, the joke makes itself."

"No, fuck you and the horse you rode in on."

Update: Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #28" »

November 10, 2005

Not that we don't like to shoot people in the head for real

Daniel Radosh

It's always the bloggers' fault, isn't it? As if it's not enough that we're behind the Paris riots, now we have Mary Mapes' neighbor Jim Schutze comparing us to the KKK. But there are a couple of items in Schutze's column that could use some clearing up. First he writes that "The people who made the most adamant accusations [that the Killian documents were forged] were anonymous amateurs on the Internet, not known experts." They may have been amateurs (and may even have been wrong, though Mapes will have to work awfully hard to convince anyone of that) but conjuring up the boogeyman of anonymity won't wash here (as if that were an automatically discrediting attribute anyway). In fact, the bloggers who challenged the documents were plenty happy to have their real names known; some of them even got on TV. Wikipedia exhaustively chronicles the debate, and you'll see that every challenge to the documents has a name attached to it (or in some cases the name of a blog on which you'll find the name of the person himself).

Then there's Mapes's concern about people staking out her house to take pictures of her, digging up information about her from public documents, and interviewing her former colleagues. Have I mentioned that Mapes worked for 60 Minutes?

Finally there's this quote from Mapes: "There also were on the Internet--I found this out eventually, I wasn't even looking at it, because it was so upsetting--there were [mentions] of me having a red dot on my head, having a laser scope on my head. Which is what? Like a gun sight on my head? And if someone can lean out to shoot a picture, can they lean out and shoot me? Can they shoot into my window? What the heck is going on here?" While anyone can understand Mapes's fear in her circumstances, Schutze might have pointed out that if she had looked at the blog in question, she would have realized that in fact this whole red dot thing was a metaphor, not a threat. It was used by an anonymous blogger (just kidding ó actually John Ellis, the Bush cousin who helped steal the 2000 election) who quite clearly meant that the rifle was being aimed not by him and other conservatives, but by her fellow members of the liberal media elite. The appearance of the red dot stood for "the day when the tone of voice of your CBS colleagues (especially your 'superiors') changes dramatically... Today is the day that they begin in earnest to try to ruin the rest of your life." All in all, his metaphor turned out to be a pretty good one, as even Mapes would probably agree.

November 9, 2005

Heh heh. He said "extended."

Daniel Radosh

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Earlier, I blew off concerns about the Lifetime "ripped from yesterday's already largely fictitious headlines" miniseries Human Trafficking. It just didn't look any more exploitative to me than the run of the mill Lifetime movie (which is perhaps not saying much, but...).

I didn't actually watch the program, but a sex-worker advocate who did posted a blistering review on the Lifetime message boards (start with the bottom post). "Human Trafficking," notes Kerwin Kaye, "is notable for the extent of its sheer unbelievability." But before he gets into cataloging all the unlikely stuff in the show, he starts out by noting its "extreme salaciousness," including the fact that it "opens with an extended scene shot nearly up the skirt of a supposed 14-year-old girl." So obviously I've set up my Tivo to catch a rerun.

Meanwhile, a film buff source e-mails me a one-line review of Summer Storm, the first film by Welcome to America, You Girls Next Door director Marco Kreuzpaintner: "Softcore gay porn After School Special." Well, I'm sure Roland Emmerich will reign him in.

November 8, 2005

Trends to the end

Daniel Radosh

Slate readers curious about my history with trend stories can read this.

My own readers are pretty sick seeing that GQ story dredged up at every opportunity. But if you've memorized it, you no doubt got a kick out of seeing The New York Times this week hype "the rise of 'screenagers'", a trend story I traced back to 1965 ó and it doesn't even get a new coinage this time.

As it happens, though, I once wrote a different article ó a 1994 book review ó that touches even more closely on the themes Shafer discusses today. I'd forgotten about it until now, but reading about the work habits of Generation Y reminded me that I'd once read about some very similar trend stories on the work habits of Generation X.

November 7, 2005

At last, someone who can bring a little intellectual rigor to this story

Daniel Radosh

tfe6.jpg

According to today's Hollywood Reporter, Milla Jovovich has been cast in the film version of Peter Landesman's The Girls Next Door, instantly raising the credibility of the project. Also, the movie is now called Welcome to America. This avoids confusion with last year's The Girl Next Door, but courts a lawsuit from Art Buchwald. Kevin Kline also stars, in a story even more fanciful than the original.

Kline will play a Texas cop who finds out that he may have had a daughter who was trafficked some years ago. In the course of his investigation, he meets a young boy (Mexican actor Cesar Ramos) from Mexico City whose 13-year-old sister (Mexican actress Paulina Gayton) has been kidnapped. They go on a quest to save the Mexican girl, who is befriended by Jovovich, a young Russian woman who thinks she is coming to the U.S. to become a nanny, but is instead enslaved in Mexico.

Sentence that inadvertently tells you all you need to know: "'It is very important to tell this story from the victims' point-of-view,' said Emmerich, who will direct 10,000, B.C. in March."

November 7, 2005

Did I say "falafel"? I meant "you're welcome"

Daniel Radosh

Doug Gordon is making the talk show rounds to promote his new book The Engaged Groom, which radically proposes that planning a wedding should be a "joint venture" between a man and woman (no word on whether he wants us to help with the cooking and cleaning too). For real, do not let Carrie and Charles find out about this or their heads will explode.

But anyway, in preparing for a spot of Fox News, Doug recalls a post I wrote in preparation for an NPR interview, about how a guest should reply when the host says thank you. You may recall that my efforts at creativity backfired when it turned out that the host actually read my blog. Doug is looking for ideas, though I think he's off to a good start on his own: "I'm thinking some variation of 'It was my pleasure,' 'Glad to be here,' or, depending on the path the interview takes, 'George Bush doesn't care about black people.'"

November 7, 2005

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #27

Daniel Radosh

Seeking the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. Why was this parallel contest created? Click here. Why is this contest still necessary? Click here.

For the results of last week's contest click here and scroll down. And now, anti-caption contest #27 (using the New Yorker's numbering system). Submit your abominable captions in the comments.

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My starter suggestions:

"Hey, there's a parrot on your shoulder."

"I told you carving 'Dd' in the corner of the conference table was a bad idea."

"Do you like seafood? See... food!"

Update: Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #27" »

November 4, 2005

Pledge Drive: You're the best

Daniel Radosh

obx15B.jpg

Pledge week went by fast, didn't it? And you've all been very generous and/or self-interested, but either way is fine with me because thanks to you, I'm very close to closing the deal on that free Xbox 360. Just remember: it's not enough to register. You have to follow through and complete an offer or I'll be left standing here with my wireless controller in my hand. And read the fine print carefully -- not because they're trying to screw you but because they're trying to hide something that will work to your advantage. And if you're signing up in order to get yourself one of these machines (in which case, good luck, and I'll see you on Live) I can personally recommend completing your offer with the sub to Official Xbox Magazine, especially if, like me, you're not a hardcore gamer and want to try out lots of demos before you commit to making a purchase.

If you haven't yet signed up, I'm going to make one more plea for you to do so. Your membership helps support the continued evolution of this blog. In the near-ish future, I'm giving this site a complete redesign, so if you have any opinions about what kind of look you want (or recommendations for free templates), what features I should add or remove, etc., post 'em in the comments. This site belongs to all of you. Especially those of you who help me get the free Xbox 360.

November 3, 2005

There's your virgins!

Daniel Radosh

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Now look what you big meanies have done. Poor Lynx and Lamb "were in tears," after the reaction to their Primetime debut, their lawyer tells Newsweek. "This is going to follow them for the rest of their lives," he says, adding that they "are living in an undisclosed location and there will be no personal appearances until this thing is long blown over."

Who knows when that will be. The floodgates are now open, and while readers of this site have long known the joys of Crushin' Blue, the rest of the world is eagerly playing catch-up (though I do wish I'd been the one to think of Cute Klux Klan).

Little there will be news to you, though local columnist Bill McEwen has some fun background color on the twins' parents. Apparently dad once pissed off a crowd that had gathered to see an image of the Virgin Mary that had appeared on a tree by chainsawing the fucker down and shouting, "You Catholics! There's your virgin!" Which is pretty funny, really. And mom "burst into local lore in 1994 riding a horse -- white, of course -- near Blackstone and Shaw avenues while wearing bumper stickers across her breasts, a G-string, a cowboy hat with bunny ears, a white bunny tail and cowboy boots." Which, if you've seen mom: eew.

But anyway I finally watched the Primetime segment and I have to say, it is an amazing comment on the state of TV news that I came away from it more disgusted by Primetime than by the neo-Nazis. I almost never watch this kind of show, but I was absolutely stunned and horrified by the hacky narration and ham-handed production.

Continue reading "There's your virgins!" »

November 2, 2005

It's not hackery, it's an elaborate meditation on the dialectic between chance and order

Daniel Radosh

It's official: Star Saga is no longer the funniest, most deadpan satire of the making of Star Wars.

Update: Having long ago abandoned the faith of postmodernism (while still quite enjoying some of the ritual, mind you) I thought I'd simply commit the cardinal sin of asking the -- gasp -- author what was on his mind. I admit I was slightly reluctant because I know firsthand that nothing kills a deadpan joke faster than coming clean, but Wasley, clever chap that he is, found a way to reply that gives away just enough without quite spoiling the fun. His complete response, under the subject line il n'y a pas de hors-texte, is as follows:

Ghost of Obi-Wan [to Luke]: So what I told you was true... from a certain point
of view.

Luke [incredulously]: A certain point of view?

Ghost of Obi-Wan: Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling
to... [spectrally sitting down]... depend greatly on our own point of view.

November 2, 2005

Pledge Drive: The ultimate trip toy

Daniel Radosh

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Still dithering over whether signing up for a free Xbox 360 is worth the effort? Well stare deeply into the pretty picture above. Now imagine an infinite variety of them. Moving.

What you've just imagined is Neon the ultimate lightsynth, from legendary digital artist Jeff Minter, which comes built in to the Xbox 360. Just plug in your iPod (yes, you can do that; in fact, you can use it to override in-game music too) and the 360 becomes your personal hi-def Laser Zeppelin. Now pick up the (wireless) controller and you can influence how the synth interprets the music. How can you not admire a game system that makes something this completely useless standard?

So remember, when you sign up here, you'll not only be helping me get a free Xbox 360, you'll be on your way to getting one yourself. That's $399 you've saved to spend on acid.

November 2, 2005

I so wish this had been my idea

Daniel Radosh

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Marjorie points me to Laid-Off Dad's children's book titles that can also be used as pick-up lines. Be sure to read the comments too, especially the excerpts from Shy Little Kitten's Secret Place.

November 2, 2005

This is why he works at the OED and I work in my underwear

Daniel Radosh

A month ago I posted on the subject of everyday sins, including, "Saying 'literally' when you mean 'figuratively.' If you literally died, how are you telling me this inane story."

Today in Slate, Jesse Sheidlower tells me to stop whining. Considering that I've been confidentally using "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun ever since reading Jesse's very similar defense of that usage, I guess I'll have to let go of this pet peeve as well. Now where did I put those breadcrumbs?

[Via Gawker, which, as I note in the comments did not actually read the piece before linking it.]

November 2, 2005

Letters to the editor is the new blogging

Daniel Radosh

Recently, New York magazine ran an article about a novel form of assisted reproductive therapy that involves freezing eggs instead of embryos. Towards the end, an IVF doctor who does not do egg freezing is quoted:

"I'm not sure Iím positive that itís a great thing," says Veeck-Gosden. "People donít think about the long term. Are they going to be around to see grandchildren? It changes what we see as the makeup of families." Not to mention the fact that "you donít feel the same at 45 as you do at 35," she says. And itís not just energy: Endometriosis increases, uterus and tubal function are compromised, everything suffers with age. "Delaying reproduction just for social reasons," says Veeck-Gosden, "I think we will probably learn some lessons over the next couple of decades about that."

Maybe we will, but as a doctor and researcher, that's not your concern, as my wife Gina points out in a letter to New York published this week.

The attitudes of the doctors quoted in ďStop TimeĒ are extremely paternalistic. Theoretical questions about whether women will be too tired to have children at 45 or whether they will live to see their grandchildren should not hinder the development of this technology. We shouldnít restrict womenís fertility, whether by limiting access to this technology or to emergency contraception and abortion.

Parenthood is one of those jobs for which, almost universally, there are no tests and very few people would want them. No one would question the right of a woman with a genetic predisposition for a terminal illness to have children, even if it meant she might not live to see her grandchildren. Nor would they say that a woman who is tired a lot, whether because she has chronic fatigue syndrome or a job on a sales floor, should be prevented from having kids. One may hold these opinions personally, but few would try to impose them on others, and if they did, it would quickly be pointed out that women with all sorts of issues that make them seemingly unsuitable for motherhood -- poverty not least among them -- become mothers all the time, sometimes with great success. It's hard to imagine a doctor telling a woman desperate to get pregnant that she should rethink because she may not be the doctor's ideal candidate for motherhood, or her family might not be the doctor's idea of a perfect family.

But technology warps people's minds. The fear of the "unnatural" makes even biomedical researchers say dumb-ass things like, "Are they going to be around to see grandchildren? It changes what we see as the makeup of families." No, you know what's changed what we see as the makeup of families? A century of medical advancements that have allowed people to be around to see their grandchildren in the first place. According to an article in the Times last summer, "the likelihood that a 20-year-old these days will have a living grandmother (91 percent) is higher than the likelihood that a 20-year-old in 1900 had a living mother (83 percent)." Was anyone protesting the development of antibiotics on the grounds that too many grandparents in the picture would destroy the traditional family?

Will some children suffer because their mothers got pregnant too old? Most assuredly. Just as plenty of children suffer now from having lousy mothers who got knocked up the old fashoned way. There have always been people who shouldn't be parents for one reason or another, and there always will be. But society's job is to let them make that decision for themselves.

Continue reading "Letters to the editor is the new blogging" »

November 1, 2005

Pledge Drive: You know you want it

Daniel Radosh

Yesterday I appealed to your charitable instincts. Today, I'm aiming straight for your geek lust. After you see these Xbox 360 screenshots, you're going to want one as much as I do. Go ahead and sign up here, then just refer eight friends (or blog readers) and the game is yours. You have nothing to lose but your dignity, and your dignity doesn't have 48-way parallel floating-point dynamically scheduled shader pipelines.

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Continue reading "Pledge Drive: You know you want it" »

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