Monthly Archives: June 2006

Oppression Tower

From The New York Times (“Architects Unveil New Design for Freedom Tower,” June 28, 2006):

Eager to avoid creating a fortress that overshadows the World Trade Center memorial, the architects of the Freedom Tower unveiled a new approach today. They would clad its 187-foot-high, bomb-resistant concrete base in a screen of glass prisms rather than metal panels.

Basically what they’re saying is that there will be no store fronts and no street life around the new World Trade Center’s star attraction. People will enter the building like cattle and leave like cattle.

The old World Trade Center towers were ugly and spartan, perhaps the largest relic of Le Corbusier. Instead of a park complex with office space, a real opportunity exists to carve an urban neighborhood out of the site. Excess space wasted on parkland could be used to provide much-needed housing for the city. Tall buildings can fit perfectly well into the New York City landscape, much like the Empire State Building does.

Surprise! Fucknut in Utah

From (“Congressional Hopeful Blames Troubles on the Devil,” June 23, 2006):

Regarding the devil, [Congressional hopeful John] Jacob said Thursday that since he decided to run for Congress, Satan has bollixed his business deals, preventing him from putting as much money into the race as he had hoped.

Numerous business deals he had lined up have been delayed, freezing money he was counting on to finance his race.

“You know, you plan, you organize, you put your budget together and when you have 10 things fall through, not just one, there’s some other, something else that is happening,” Jacob said.

Jacob explained that, when people try to do something good, there are frequently forces that align to stop them.

“We have a country that was created by our Heavenly Father and it was a country that had a Constitution and everyone who came to America had strong faith. If that can be destroyed that would be the adversity. … Whether you want to call that Satan or whoever you want to call it, I believe in the last eight months I’ve experienced that.”

Nobody would ever consider that the devil might be behind this guy’s candidacy, right?

Erotica/Booze: Good. The Government: Bad.

This from CNN (“FEMA cards bought diamonds, erotica“):

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Problems with the distribution of federal disaster assistance after hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused potential fraud and waste topping $1 billion, an audit by the Government Accountability Office found.

Debit cards given to people displaced by the storms were improperly used to buy diamond jewelry, a vacation in the Dominican Republic, fireworks, a $200 bottle of champagne at a Hooters in San Antonio and $300 worth of “Girls Gone Wild” videos, the audit found.

Now, if government wealth redistribution were limited to buying porn and booze instead of invading countries and bailing out airlines, this would be a much happier, safer country.

Another Anti-Alcohol Screed in The New York Times

The New York Times published another anti-alcohol screed (“Teenage Wasteland,” June 2, 2006) this weekend. This one was written by some guy named David Pease, a Connecticut father-turned-control-freak inspired by the deaths of some of his children (is it possible that substance abuse runs in the family?).

According to A Vigil for Lost Promise’s sponsors page, Pease “is a self-appointed activist, mentoring proponent and prevention advocate focused on helping parents get a grip on the cloak of denial, and on helping teens break free from the bondage of underage drinking and substance abuse. He is the founder of the Amistad 53 Mentoring Program – currently being pilot tested in Stamford, Connecticut in partnership with Liberation Programs of Connecticut – and the Get a G.R.I.P. Foundation, working to inspire ‘Greater Responsibility In Parenthood’ by conducting workshops across the State.” Sadly, he “lost his oldest son Dave to a heroin overdose at age 23 in 1997, and his middle son Casey in 2001, on his 24th birthday, to a car accident where alcohol played a role.” You can read his testimony about his sons in his article “My Son Brian” published on the web site of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Anyway, I’m of course not happy that Pease lost his sons to what clearly amounted to a vicious substance abuse problem. However, I don’t really think Pease can blame society for what happened to his children. Liberalization and culture really weren’t the direct problems in his case. The children had a problem. He confesses that he maybe didn’t handle it as well as he should have, which is actually pretty courageous, but at the end of the day one of his sons was playing with heroine, not exactly equivalent to smoking a joint or drinking a beer, and the other got plastered and attempted to drive home.

But back to the New York Times article. Pease laments, “If there ever was a time to focus on the problem of underage drinking here in Connecticut, it’s now, when teenagers are busy celebrating their final days of high school and the beginning of independence, in many cases by popping a cork or opening a bottle.” Well, gee. It’s kind of a long-accepted custom in western society to pop a cork of champaign to celebrate the passage into adulthood, which Pease carefully refers to as “independence” (because 18-year-olds who graduate from high school still aren’t adults?). Pease’s op-ed is full of the usually vague statistics about the “problem” of alcohol consumption:

  • “Our teenagers are reporting a consumption of alcohol during the last 30 days that is 21 percent above the national average, yet a number of Connecticut parents and legislators resist putting more teeth into our local ordinances.”

But what does that mean? It could mean lots of these “kids” are consuming small quantities responsibly, or a few are consuming small to large quantities irresponsibly. That’s a meaningless statistic only made alarming by the fact that you have to be 21 to purchase alcohol. I find it rather hard to believe that parents who supervise their offspring drinking, which they shouldn’t have to do when their children are already 18 and legally adults, is a danger to Connecticut society. As a matter of fact, Connecticut should probably be thankful there are some responsible parents out there who take the time and effort to teach responsible drinking habits.

  • “For too long, the country has focused on illicit drug abuse without giving alcohol abuse the attention it warrants. And yet according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, of the 22.5 million Americans over the age of 12 who are substance-dependent, 15.2 million, or 67.6 percent, abuse alcohol, while only 3.9 million, or 17 percent, are primarily drug abusers.”

I don’t know the methodology of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration off the top of my head, but I don’t think it’s fair to conflate those who have a drink once in a while, no matter what age they are, with “substance abusers,” which Pease appears to at least be implying. It’s obvious that people prone to substance abuse might abuse alcohol more often than other drugs because alcohol is indeed freely available. 22.5 million people is a pretty small fraction of the U.S. population, however. According to this moment’s estimate (1:53PM on Sunday the 4th of June, 2006) from the Census Bureau, the population of the U.S. is 298,898,582. That puts the the fraction of those over 12 who abuse substances at under 8%. It’s not nice to say that 8% of our population has substance abuse problems, but that hardly seems like an extreme number.

  • “When one considers that more than 95 percent of those 15.2 million alcohol abusers started drinking before they were 21 years old, it would seem logical that underage drinking would not only be our main focus, but that it would also get the bulk of our prevention spending.”

I don’t know what it means to start drinking per se, but it appears that most people at least manage to have a drink before the age of 21, or even 18. Whether they choose to drink again, much less drink regularly, I don’t know the stat. Unless you’re an abstainer (maybe a wise, conscious choice for that percentage of the population that is prone to substance a buse) for health or moral or religious reasons, you probably have a drink now and again.

  • “While restricting access is important, studies have shown that programs that reduce drug and alcohol abuse focus on educating parents and teaching children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.”

How do you do that? Why, teach them to drink responsibly. Don’t binge drink, kids!

  • “Recent studies of adolescents’ brain scans show that the consumption of alcohol by young adults can cause long-lasting damage, particularly in areas related to learning, memory and critical thinking.”

Quite typical for these types of screeds, not such study was even cited. It’s probably the case that binge drinking does affect cognitive development. But it seems pretty alarmist to say that having a drink, or even having one every night, will affect cognitive development. But again, this statistic is thrown around liberally, but never substantiated.

The reason why alarmist screeds like this come about is because the authors of such claims are knee-jerk moralists. They act this way about alcohol and drugs, but not activities that don’t carry a moral social stigma. For instance, according to NHTSA statistics in 2005, 43,200 died in car accidents. “Alcohol-related” deaths numbered 16,972. (It’s important to remember that “alcohol-related” is also a very vague, misleading term. A sober driver hitting a drunk pedestrian is “alcohol-related.)

Cars are apparently killing more people thank drivers who drink. Heck, Mr. Pease’s son died in an automobile-related accident. Why don’t we make it more difficult to drive? Better yet, let’s shoot for Automobile Prohibition!