Get Paid, Get Laid, Get Raid(ed by Italian Police)

Dear Raymond Burke,

You, the Archbishop in Saint Louis, resigned from the Board of Directors of a hospital. Why? Well you said that Sheryl Crow promotes "moral evils"* in the form of stem cell research. And she's raising money for cancer at that hospital. It's kind of like how I don't go to the big business Catholic Church or give them any money, because they let known pedophiles sit on the altar.

So what's worse, sir, promoting (what 50 percent of missourians think are not) moral evils to raise money for hospitals, or promoting child molestation** to raise money for churches and golden chalices?

Drew Smith

Article here
Similar, classic event

* Whether you think it's murder or not is your personal belief and even if you think it's murder you have to admit it's a confusing topic.
** I think we all agree child molestation is wrong.

He'd win the loser of the week if I hadn't read a few days ago that Washington University had been steering students to certain loan companies for kickbacks. Just like I saw them steering kids into a Monsanto propaganda wagon on campus. It'd be nice if kids got to hear the counterpoint on Monsanto before they start getting showered with free branded gifts. I almost starting talking to them about Europe and GMO's.


To Catch a Predator, not Stop a Predator

In honor of TV Turnoff Week 2007, I'm going to write about television.

I watch "To Catch a Predator." It is an entertaining show, as you get to see a terrific comedy of errors every episode. What appeals to me most, however, is what lies beneath the dramedy. Sure, they usually lock up a few bad guys and ruin a few marriages, but, as an engineer, my thoughts tend to drift towards the net effect of the whole exchange. For instance, you put in a pervert, a decoy, a wiseacre host and hidden cameras. What's the net effect? A caught predator, not a stopped predator.

Think about this. Recently scientists have found that a few men with frontal lobe brain trauma had completely lost their sexual inhibitions. One had a tumor obstructing his frontal lobe, which, after removal, resulted in him being a perfect citizen. However, when the tumor returned, simultaneously he resumed his disinhibited ways.

So lets assume these predators have lost a good chunk of free will in these situations. They are unable to control their addictions. Do we see them going to a shrink and then getting a brain scan? No, NBC just shows them handcuffed in the van, which appeals in that end-of-the-thriller-movie way. But what happens when they get out? Will the icy glare and rapier wit of Chris Hansen stop people from doing what they're addicted to? Hell no. In which case, all that comes out of the dirty stew that NBC creates for ratings is the public humiliation of perverts, the catching, not the stopping. Which is cool, except if the perverts never had control over it before. The best way to treat a problem is at its roots, not at the end of the chain.

At the thrift store this weekend, I heard a worker talk about his ghetto pass, that he'd use to get drugs. He works for the Salvation Army, which means that he probably is in rehab for his addiction. It made me really happy to hear that someone was getting his life in order. Maybe someday when "To Catch a Predator" does that I can go back to watching it for laughs.

Another article about the brain and free will from Neurophilosophy


Breaking Down the Fourth Wall

A few quick things before I get back into posting about things like the Kinsey Scale and To Catch a Predator.

My sister told me about Kiva a few weeks ago, and since she's down with all the hip non-profits I figured it was worth a look. Basically, you donate money to some Third World entrepreneur and they use your money for a year, buying chickens or a fishing pole or rice. The question that everyone always asks of charities is "How do I know the money gets to them?" Well I looked that up and apparently a writer for the NY Times went to Afghanistan to find the retailer he had donated to. And lo and behold, the guy was there!

Your money isn't even a donation, it's just a loan, which intrigued me. I wondered what the repay rate was. Surprisingly, it's 100%! The way they handle this is they enlist reputable credit agencies in the developing countries. These credit agencies do charge a small fee to loan your money, but from what I can tell it's manageable. I emphasize this point because anyone who has read about the WTO or the World Bank knows that they don't exactly give developing countries a way out of poverty- they just sort of use the countries for their resources to fuel (no pun intended) the big economies.

So if you want to donate, but you're a born skeptic like me, check out Kiva. And for those of you who say that I'm a tightwad.. well you're right. But I did donate, and if you're interested in who I donated to, check out my donor page. And yes I know I need a picture that doesn't make me look like a jerk- I'm working on it. I invested in a guy running an Internet cafe in Azerbajin and another guy repairing radios in Togo. I figured that if I were born poor in one of these countries, I'd probably be doing something like these jobs, and a loan would help me out.

Switching gears, let me admit that I think the University of California system is alright. They didn't let me into Berkeley, but I got into UCLA. Even though I chose not to pay an arm and a leg to go there, I can do one better now and actually attend Berkeley. How? Well, being progressive Berkeley knows that it can help the world by giving away some free education without sacrificing the prestige of a diploma from them. At this page you can find video podcasts of many of their classes. I haven't explored it too much, but I'll let everyone know how my UC education is going years down the road.

NOTE: Also, I'm going to make some color changes on here, and change the links, etc. If you see something broken (for awhile), then let me know, I probably messed it up.