Taliban to Keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Be Gay Policy for Militants

In completely unsurprising news out of Afghanistan today, the Taliban has reiterated its Don’t Ask, Don’t Be Gay policy for it’s militants. According to the policy, letting openly gay men serve is “just not their thing.”

In a statement issued to …And Read All Over, one of the Taliban’s prominent leaders on the group’s DADG policy, Rickwar al-Santorumqi, was quoted as saying:

Yeah, I — I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the Taliban. And the fact that they’re making a point to include it as a provision within the Taliban that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to — to — and removing “Don’t ask, Don’t be gay” I think tries to inject social policy into the Taliban. And the Taliban’s job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.
We need to give the Taliban, which is all-volunteer, the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient at protecting our men and women in uniform. And I believe this undermines that ability.

In keeping the policy, the Taliban has left intact the strong similarities it has with some American states, social groups, and political parties, where homosexuality is still very much illegal and grounds for torment and abuse. These similarities have traditionally been downplayed by both Taliban militants and American homophobes.

McVeigh’s Law of Conspiracies

McVeigh’s Law of Conspiracies states that as people and enterprises are added to a conspiracy theory, the probability of that theory’s truth approaches zero.

Another way of saying this is that the plausibility of every conspiracy theory is equal to a ratio of the size and scope of the characteristics of the people and enterprises involved in the conspiracy theory, including the telling of the conspiracy theory itself. The equation looks like this:

Where:
I1 = Instances that The X-Files is referenced in the conversation about the conspiracy theory
T1 = Total number of times you have heard or read about the conspiracy theory in question
S1 = Stains on the shirt of the person telling you the conspiracy theory
B = Number of conspirators (so named after the most famous conspirator, Brutus)
U = URLs devoted directly to the conspiracy theory in question (but not derivations thereof)
L1= Number of declarations in the conspiracy theory that would be lies if the theory is false
L2 = Losers that already believe the conspiracy theory and are all too ready to say “I told you so.”
S2 = Total number of sentences needed to tell the conspiracy
H = Number of man hours needed to successfully complete the conspiracy
I2 = Probable number of times the losers from L2 will actually say “I told you so.”
T2 = Total number of degrees the main conspirator is related to Kevin Bacon

McVeigh’s Law of Conspiracies is the most reliable way of telling if a conspiracy is truthful and worth thinking about. It is used by both conspiracy proponents and detractors alike, whenever it suits their argument, which it always does.

The Best CAM Vaccine Ever. Period.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this anti-vaccine campaign that I signed on to. What I think we need are not just complimentary but alternative medicines to help us battle those pesky little germs. As a legitimate doctor, I feel especially qualified to aid the public in this matter.

The more I thought about this conundrum, though, the more I realized that the other “doctors” were actually on to something good. Taking fish oil for the measles, Echinaceabopshebop for the mumps, and Japanese Eyeball Poking for everything else is all fine and good (and I can’t recommend these wonderful products more – Hi, Senator Hatch!), but what we need is what the doctors have tried to accomplish with the MMR vaccine. We need something that can conquer all diseases once and for all so we can get on with our lives.

Friends, I think I’ve found it.

I’m calling it Swimming with Sharks™ because that’s just what it is. We all know that sharks are immune to all diseases just as we all know that humans and animals are able to manipulate the cosmic energy fields in order to heal themselves. I’m just putting two and two together here to make the ultimate CAM vaccine. By using the natural karmic spiritual motion generator fields, I am able to transfer the shark’s immunity to the patient. All they have to do is get in the water and swim with my sharks.

Now, I know the idea of Swimming with Sharks™ sounds crazy, but so does sticking needles in your body to relieve pain. But acupuncture works, amiright? It just stands to reason that Swimming with Sharks™ would also work. In fact, I have pretty much already proven that it works. I tried the method on both of my sons and guess what? The one that survived has yet to develop whooping cough, polio, or rubella. Now how’s that for proof? He even said he can feel the healing powers he gained from Swimming with Sharks™. Who needs scientific studies? Booooring.

Just think – that could be your son or daughter with that shark, getting all immunized.

The added bonus of Swimming with Sharks™ – which I will throw in for no extra cost – is that it works best for babies since not only will they obtain the sharks’ immunity, but they will also learn how to swim (away) from the sharks. When the sharks see the infant floundering in the water, they will instantly take the child under their fins and rescue it – just as any animal would do because animals are more in tune with the cosmic nature of natural beings. And if they don’t, you’re going to end up with a mini Michael Phelps that is immune to every disease known to man and shark. Bonus!

If you’re still in doubt, let me ask you this – what else are you going to do? Get real vaccines? Come on. Get real.

Call now.

Dear Pedigree,

I know you are concerned about making pet food with all natural ingredients – meats, cheeses, etc. – and I know that your customers appreciate your devotion. But as the owner of three goats, I have to tell you that I feel left out. The options that me and my fellow goaters are faced with are grim to gruff. All of the goat feed on the market right now is made up of wheat and grains – not exactly a goat’s idea of steak and lobster.

I’m writing to tell you that I happened upon a solution to this problem and I think you will be very interested in it. One day when I went outside to feed my goats (with the normal, boring goat feed), I caught them rummaging through my garbage. Instead of just looking for a tasty morsel, my goats were eating everything in the garbage can! I was amazed. So I started to experiment. First I gave them old newspapers. They ate ’em up. Then I gave them empty bottles. Gulp. Then I gave them coffee grinds. Down the hatch!

The implication was obvious. My goats would eat anything. Hackey sacks, empty deodorant canisters, rubber gloves, VCRs, light bulbs – you name it and they ate it. So I figured, why don’t we go into business together? I’ll send you my trash (my goats don’t have big enough bellies to eat all of it), you put your logo on them, and ship ’em out. It’s a win-win.

Now, even though I don’t recycle (who would when you own goats?), I already know that I won’t be able to supply the demand. So you’ll have to find another way to get trash. May I suggest having your employees bring theirs in? Well, that’s for your R&D people to figure out. I’m just a simple goat farmer with a great idea.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please reply soon though as I’ve already started piling up my trash out back. If I don’t hear from you in a couple of weeks, I think I’ll be forced to call Iams. No disrespect, you know, I just got to get rid of this trash. And I don’t want to deprive America’s goats of some good eatin’.

Sincerely,

Joe McVeigh

Not a Him or a Her, Not a Madam or Sir

This is a post which elaborates on a comment I left on the Macmillan Dictionary blog. The post (by Stan Carey) discussed the nature of gendered pronouns in English and the ways people have tried to invent a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun. It’s worth a read (as are the comments in this post, where Stan was kind enough to indulge my ramblings). I tried to be very concise in my comment, but I feel like the point I tried to make deserves more attention (and page space) than is usually permitted in comments. So I’m making a post out of it.

My comment was this:

I’m going to try my best not to be too vague or overarching, but I wonder if the use of gender-neutral pronouns to point out chauvinism in language is anything like restructuring the history class curriculum to not be just one war after the other. The idea is that making war a priority in the history classroom perpetuates its priority in students minds year after year and so shapes the world they live in. Changing the curriculum would be interesting, but at the same time, war has been a major part of history and humans will always the capacity to be violent on a large scale.
What I’m trying to get at is the ways in which we are able to recognize and assess our own biases and the point at which we start fighting against our nature. Pronouns are learned first and then sexist meanings are attached to them (in varying degrees, I assume). But there’s no doubt that people distinguish between genders. I wonder how long it would take – or if it’s possible at all – to break down all the sexist meanings attached to our gendered pronouns. Just like how many years would it take to strip war of its priority in students minds?
Certainly experiments like the Egalia school’s will lead us to better understand how our brains relate natural necessities (like pronouns) with nurtured meanings (like equality or sexism), right? It should help us see whether finding a gender-neutral pronoun is a step in the process of breaking down inequality or if it’s a necessity, depending on how deep in our minds sexism lies and the ways in which it is learned.

That wasn’t too confusing, was it? Am I grasping at straws here or applying too much meaning to aspects of language?

The idea of using language in a different way in order to eliminate inequality in society is very interesting, especially when it involves pronouns because of their necessity in language. Racist words, for example, could arguably be removed from the language, but pronouns can not. If we removed one, it would need to be replaced. And that’s where things get tricky.

In the comment, I mentioned a post about how teaching history as being one war after another may be perpetuating the importance of war in young students’ minds. So, while war was a major part of life and possibly even a necessity in the past, it doesn’t need to be anymore (and shouldn’t). But if we keep teaching history in the way we have been, we may be creating a future where war is a constant. Changing the curriculum may be able to stop this, but there is no denying that humans have (and probably always will have) the ability to be violent.

In a similar way, racist words have been a part of languages, but no longer need to be (and should have never been). Removing them may sound fine to some, but racism and its motivations run deeper than the language we use. Remove one racial epithet and you’re liable to end up with another one just as quick (assuming you could even remove a word from the language, which you can’t). And yet, teaching people to not use racist words goes a long way in teaching them to not be racist, simply by bringing the effects of such words to the forefront. We can’t remove the violent nature of humans or the importance of war in the past, but we can possibly change how war is viewed today, just like we can change how people of other races are viewed. And we can do it (at least partly) by changing the ways we use language.

But pronouns and their entanglement with sexism is a whole different beast. We can’t do without pronouns – gendered or not. We can, however, do without the sexist meanings attached to them. From experience, I have noticed that children have no trouble learning to use gendered or neutral pronouns. My son is a bilingual speaker of English (gendered third-person pronoun) and Finnish (gender neutral third-person). To the best of my knowledge, he is not a chauvinist. Then again, he’s only two. Later on, as his vocabulary grows, the third-person English pronouns that he uses will acquire more meaning as he differentiates between men and women more and is influenced by other speakers. This is where sexist or chauvinistic meaning may come into play. And this is why people have tried to use gender-neutral pronouns in English – in order to raise people that do not place so much weight on the differences (real or imaginary) between genders. A similar motivation inspires changing the teaching of history. And yet, adults are the ones who recognize the sexist meanings that our pronouns carry. Our vocabulary includes those meanings, the vocabulary of children does not. And using gender-neutral pronouns is not guaranteed to make people less sexist. As I said before, Finnish has a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun and Finns can be just as sexist and chauvinistic as English speakers (no offense, mun Finnish veljet). What I’m saying is that gender bias and sexist meanings are at play in Finnish society. So is it even worth using only gender-neutral pronouns around our children?

I think there are two ways in which it’s worth it. First, English speakers may be at an advantage when compared to Finnish speakers. If we were to use gender-neutral pronouns, we would be bringing the sexist nature of gendered pronouns to the forefront, much like not using racist words brings the ugly nature of them into people’s minds. In English, we can compare pronouns to lessen sexism in society. Presumably, Finnish speakers can not do this. How ridiculous would it be for them to invent gendered pronouns to compare to their non-gendered ones? But this learning by comparison requires speakers to have the knowledge of sexist meanings, which is something that children do not have. So in order to teach them why the words he or she are sexist, we must first teach them sexist notions of gender. And we’re right back to square one.

Or are we? Because the second reason I think such a debate is important is that experiments such as the teaching of gender-neutral pronouns to children may lead to a better understanding of how much of our biases come from nature and how much come from nurture – just like the changing of the history lesson might give insight into how violent humans really are or how much they need war. Of course, it may be that we can never know how ingrained our biases or desires are, but impossibility has never stopped science from trying before.

Sorry for the serious post. I’ll return to the mindless drivel that normally makes up this blog soon. Just had to get these thoughts out on paper and decided to share them. I’m interested in hearing what you, dear readers, have to say on this matter, especially if you can point me to certain studies or books that relate to it. I don’t know of any off the top of my head or have the time to look any up, but I’ll try to update this post as I come across them.

Inspried by My Mother Warriors

Have you heard what’s going on out there? Everywhere around the world, mothers are standing up to Big Pharma. These are strong minded women who aren’t afraid to say no! They are an inspiration to us all.

In fact, I was so inspired by these brave Mother Warriors™, that I decided to stand up. I’m myself am a vaccinated male (my cross to bear!), so unfortunately I could not be strong in the same way. But I knew I had to do something. And I think I hit on a few great ways to expand the great ideas of the Mother Warriors by finding other social pressures that are really just choices. These may be my ideas, but all of you are free to practice them.

Drive It Like You Stole It
I don’t have a driver’s license and I’m not going to get one. Do you know what they put in cars? Lead gasoline. How harmful is lead gasoline? It’s lead and gasoline! Cars are so harmful, and I haven’t even mentioned all the oil and exhaust and sometimes shag carpeting. It’s horrifying. So what if I don’t know the traffic laws? The only one I’m possibly hurting is me, right? At least I’ll know that I didn’t pay one cent to Big Oil or Big Highway or Big State. If this idea goes well, I plan to apply it to airplanes and boats as well.

You know, I never really liked stopping at red lights either. I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore. Do you know how many people are injured while waiting at red lights each year? I don’t, but I’m sure it’s a lot. Is it really worth it to voluntarily stop and wait for pain to be inflicted upon you, which is sure to happen, just because Big Red Light tells you to? I don’t think so.

Teach a Man to Fish…
You know what I always hear? People telling me that I have to know a subject and have a teaching degree if I want to teach children. Well, I can tell you one thing. My grandmother didn’t have no teaching degree and she taught me everything I know. Why do you think I don’t swallow gum? Because it takes seven years (!) to pass through my digestive system. Thanks, Grandma! I had warts until she got someone to buy them off of me. And have you ever noticed any hair on my palms? No, because Grandma told me not to masturbate. She really was a pill – a homeopathic pill!

So I’m going to become a teacher. I don’t need to know math or English or science. I’ll teach the kids real, valuable life lessons, just like my grandmother taught me. They’ll be much better off. Requiring our teachers to have teaching degrees is just society’s way of making you obey Big Education.

Help! 911!
Did you know that you have to go to school in order to become a police officer, fireman, or EMT? Can you believe that? The reasoning is something about the safety of society. Whatever. My intentions are what really matters. And I intend to serve and protect to the utmost of my ability. What’s wrong with that? Well, in the eyes of some, the problem is that my money won’t be going to Big Donut, Big Smoke Alarm, or Big Band-Aid.

If You Build It…
Are you an architect looking for a complementary and alternative way to have your building inspected? Well, then you’ve come to the right place. Have me inspect your building for structural safety and you can rest assured that not a single penny will go to Big Building Code. Because I’m not licensed by them!

Taking Out the Trash
I’ve been dutifully taking out my trash for years now. And for what? More bills and more money to Big Landfill. Do you know what they put in landfills? All sorts of trash and garbage! There are flies everywhere. It’s disgusting! Well, I for one am no longer contributing to that mess. I’m also no longer disposing of my used motor oil in the “recommended” way (we all know what that means). I live next to a lake, so I’m just going to dump everything in there. Out of sight, out of mind!

Running of the Bulls
Why should Spain have all the fun? What about Pamplona, PA, USA? Listen – I know a guy who knows a guy who can get me five horny and pissed off bulls to release sometime next month. I’m not going to tell anyone in Pamplona, PA, I’m just going to let them go some weekend. It’ll be a riot! Why, yes, Mr. Mayor-of-Pamplona, PA, you may give me the key to your city. Really, it was nothing. Just doing what the spirit moved me to do.

Who Wants Marshmallows?
I live in a row house in Philadelphia and I’m sick and tired of the city telling me that I’m not “allowed” to have a bonfire on my porch. Who are they to say? It’s my house, I’ll do what I want. If my neighbors can’t stand the heat, they can get off my porch. I don’t see what the problem is.

Let’s Get It On
I’m HIV-positive, but I hate telling my sexual partners about it. Talk about aww-kward. So I’m not going to do that anymore. This, again, is just me exercising my right to choose.

Remember, all of these will be our little secret, OK?

Answering the Critics of the President’s Finnish Society

Inspired by the success and resolve of the Queen’s English Society, I created the President’s Finnish Society, or Presidentin Suomenkielen Mielisairaala. Our intention is to improve the standards of Finnish, to encourage people to know more about the wonderful Finnish language, to use it more effectively and to enjoy it more, to rid Standard Finnish of vulgar slang and foreign words. Or, as the Finns would say, “sinun seura on paska.” Just like the QES, the PFS awards an annual prize for excellent Finnish usage – the Jussi Sekopää award. Last year’s winner, for the eighth time in a row, was Matti Nykänen.

The PFS has been around for twelve years and we are still going strong. But I feel it is time to answer some of our detractors. I do not want to, but it seems they just won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems they might be multiplying. This will not do.

The first criticism to address is that I am not qualified to monitor the progress of the Finnish language. My opponents will say that just because I’m neither a native Finn nor a fluent Finnish speaker, I should therefore not “comment on any alterations to the language that are felt to be not in keeping with clarity and elegance in written or spoken” Finnish, as the QES does for English. I say that I am the proud father of not one, but two native Finnish speakers. So you could call me not just fluent, but proto-fluent.

That’s pretty much the only charge that has been leveled against me. Well, some like to point out that there is already an organization that polices the Finnish language. But those fools just don’t realize that two is better than one. Duh!

Read all about it
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