“Oops!” That’s how a former girlfriend of mine used to annotate the moment of, er, “crossing the threshold” as it were.
Which gives me an opening to talk about a book reviewed by Slate. Sociologist Mark Regnerus’ new book Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers finally answers the age-old question: do Christian girls get busy?
And the (surprising?) answer: yes, yes they do.
Teenagers who identify as “evangelical” or “born again” are highly likely to sound like the girl at the bar ["at Bible study the other night … Pastor Ted says … saving it for marriage"]; 80 percent think sex should be saved for marriage. But thinking is not the same as doing. Evangelical teens are actually more likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or Catholics. They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3, compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths. And they are much more likely to have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7 percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline Protestants.
No wonder my dad keeps telling me I should hang out at church to attract more women.
One of the world’s top spammers, who happens to live in Seattle, is under arrest:
SEATTLE (AP) — A 27-year-old man described as one of the world’s most prolific spammers was arrested Wednesday, and federal authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk e-mail.
Robert Alan Soloway is accused of using networks of compromised ‘zombie’ computers to send out millions upon millions of spam e-mails.
‘He’s one of the top 10 spammers in the world,’ said Tim Cranton, a Microsoft Corp. lawyer who is senior director of the company’s Worldwide Internet Safety Programs. ‘He’s a huge problem for our customers. This is a very good day.’
Anyone notice a decrease? I didn’t.
Right-wing think tanks — of the kind that are funded by corporations to promote a specific agenda — usually have suspiciously antiseptic or innocuous names, like “Freedom Policy Institute” or some such. The trick is to throw the words “institute” or “policy” in there as often as possible to throw people off the scent. (Case in point, the “Competitive Enterprise Institute,” which until recently was largely funded by ExxonMobil specifically to cast doubt on global warming)
So, of course, the red flags went up when I read this op-ed from Michael Ennis, “the director of the Center for Transportation Policy at the Washington Policy Center.” Would you like some “policy” with that? After all, it’s a think tank that brags of being the “Heritage Foundation of the Northwest.” (Heritage being one of the key boosters of that awesome public policy initiative known as “the Iraq War”)
Long story short, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of intellectual honesty from this op-ed, and Mr. Ennis didn’t disappoint. He completely fails to do a true accounting of the cost of building more highways and the aggregate costs of buying cars and gas to drive on them. But most glaringly, he attempts to dismiss the rail/roads package because it won’t reduce congestion. That’s largely correct, but it presents a false choice.
Congestion is here to stay. Think about it: we’ve been building roads for 100 years, and every year congestion has gotten worse. If we build roads for another 100 years, will things magically get better? Maybe it’s time to try a different approach. The point of investing in alternatives to roads — as smart conservatives already know — is to provide choices, to diversify our portfolio. That’s something any free-marketer should understand.
Chinese justice reaches Libyan levels of theatricality:
The former director of China’s top food and drug safety agency was sentenced to death on Tuesday after pleading guilty to corruption and accepting bribes, the state-controlled news media reported.
Zheng Xiaoyu was the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from its founding in 1998 until mid-2005, when he was removed from his post. He was detained in February in a government investigation of the agency, which is supposed to be China’s food and drug watchdog. Two other top agency officials have also been detained.
Mr. Zheng, 62, received the unusually harsh sentence amid heightened concern about the quality and safety of China’s food and drug system after several scandals involving tainted food and phony drugs.
Someday they’ll get it right. And don’t get any ideas, Bush haters!
When Sam Brownback raised his hand to indicate that he doesn’t believe in evolution, what he meant to say was:
If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.
I still don’t think he thinks we evolved from monkeys though.
*On any other day, in any other context, one can resist the gratuitous Onyx reference; today is not that day.
If Fred Thompson is, in fact, running for President, does that mean that NBC will have to stop showing Law & Order reruns that feature the actor-turned-Senator-turned-actor? Apparently so. The Terminator movies were off-limits when Gov. Schwarzenegger ran for office. All the candidates have to get “equal time” on broadcast TV (but not cable).
Of course, here’s the real fun twist: Thompson’s character on the show, Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch, often reports to real NYC mayors, who make cameo appearances. Both Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani have appeared, playing themselves, on L&O.
So if the GOP primary comes down to just Giuliani and Thompson, then we’ll be able to show the one episode where Giuliani appears, so long as it plays in rotation with one Thompson episode. The one Seinfeld episode where candidate Giuliani gets high cholesterol from faux-fat-free frozen yogurt should be locked in a 1990s time capsule and never shown again.
Bonus hall-of-mirrors super extra twist: before being elected Mayor, Rudy Giuliani was the… Manhattan District Attorney, the real-life version of Arthur Branch!
History Channel Star Wars “story behind the film” piece breaks little new ground — oh, the reason for the film’s success was its deep-rooted narrative classicism? Really?
Except in one regard: the show features many new “learned observer” interviews, including some surprises. Notably, both Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi are called upon to give their two-cents worth, both of them offering a version of “it’s a timeless story”.
Gingrich does take the opportunity to get in a jab about Reagan’s own “evil empire” — the Soviet Union. Gingrich proffers something to the effect of “I think most people identified the Empire’s totalitarian tendencies with the Communists in Eastern Europe.” Er, sorry, Newt. I’m a geek like the rest, and it’s clearly referencing Germany circa 1939.
In the end, History seems to give Pelosi the win, if only by virtue of her somewhat surprising introduction only towards the very end of the program. Alas! She takes no opportunity to say anything overtly political, as far as I could tell. If only she’d made some comment like, “even the Empire knew when it was time to evacuate from the Death Star (not that Grand Moff Tarkin listened to his advisors, either …)”.
Boy, there sure are some complicated-ass ways to increase energy efficiency out there. Apparently you can create a public corporation tasked with finding efficiency, you can have the public utilities buy people more efficient air conditioners. You can do all this cool stuff… but it’s all way complicated and probably doesn’t work because no one wants to pay for it anyway:
At a recent conference on energy efficiency and investment strategy, Pedro Haas, an energy expert at McKinsey & Company, said his consulting firm recently asked people worldwide what payback time they would find acceptable before investing money to save energy.
One fourth of them said they would never spend any money to improve energy efficiency; 50 percent said they wanted to earn back the investment in two years or less.
“That means about 75 percent of the public will require economics that are just not there,” Mr. Haas said.
This is of course, the appeal of a carbon tax. As long as the energy’s cheap to make, efficiency is going be hard to accomplish. This is why — as much as it pains me to say it — Dick Cheney was basically right when he said conservation is a personal virtue. We need to see the full costs of our choices. Cheney used this as a reason we need to drill for more oil, but I’d argue it’s the reason we need to tax the hell out of carbon-based energy.
Phase it in over a few years. Give people and business plenty of advance notice so they can prepare. Way less complicated.
Bill Richardson on Meet the Press, the immigration bill loses support on the Left, and finally: the US sits for talks with Iran and shockingly, the world doesn’t come to an end.
Good op-ed in the Times this weekend on reforming the farm bill. The farm bill is one of those famous pieces of pork(!) that no one likes except big agriculture. It’s a travesty, but — and this is the ultra-cynic in me coming out — it will never get any attention so long as Archer Daniels Midland underwrites Meet the Press.*
Read Michael Pollan article in last month’s NYT Magazine for a full dissection of how the farm bill is literally killing us.
* which will continue to endlessly replay the pre-Iraq War debate until Tim Russert feels like he’s absolved himself of his guilt for not grilling Cheney harder about WMD.