I ate my wafer...


So, there is a hot discussion over banned books at the Ockamist. I can't say that I have particularly strong opinions about banned book week, or the right for a community to control its library's collection. However I am a bit concerned by several of the topics touched on tangentially, namely:

Sex Ed.

While there are probably sex ed materials that I would find age inappropriate or otherwise offensive, I take a dim view of demonizing the entire process, or demanding abstinence only curriculum.

To briefly summarize the history involved, early Americans were exposed to sexual information at a relatively young age. Rural children would have been around animal mating activites, many times also living in a dwelling so tiny as to make parental privacy in such matters all but non-existent. Early American cities had extremely high (~20% of women) number of prostitutes, sometimes complete with European-style licensing. Even pornography and birth control were widely available by the civil war. For that matter, in 1830, between 30 and 40% of brides were coming to the alter pregnant. The Comstock act and demographic trends did a great deal to reduce the average American child's exposure to scientific sexual information (and probably cut severely into the abortion rate). However even then, there is little doubt from the number of teen pregnancies in, say, 1957, (double that of 1983.) that teenagers were exposed to sexual information or at least having lots of sex. (I can add more cites if anyone wants them).

This history of sexual information being known to children, seems to make efforts to shelter children from information about sex pointless and counterproductive. I know a number of conservatives that argue that children simply shouldn't be exposed to sexual information, basing this on some mythical, non-existent time in the mid-1950's where purportedly children never heard about sex, and therefore refrained from sexual activity until marriage. I simply find it historically indefensible to argue that children were or are better off not learning about reproductive biology. I do recognize that reasonable people can disagree on exactly what materials to teach children, and at what ages. Having said that, I personally have nothing good to say about "abstinence-only" curriculum.

Frankly, statistically, "abstinence-only" curriculum doesn't seem to work well. Western European nations have a radically lower teen pregnancy rate than the United States and they certainly aren't using an abstinence-based curriculum. (For that matter, the teen abortion rate in Western Europe is radically less than in the United States, which is highly interesting when compared to statistics on church attendance.) Note, I have no problem with sex ed material that includes abstinence based materials, only with material that would meet the federal guidelines as abstinence-ONLY.



Some things just don't respond well to half-measures and subtlety.

Dealing with boring law school classes late at night when tired happens to be one of them.
There's no hope for staying awake with only a power nap and a low-fat frappuccino. For that matter the diet coke and marlboro ultra-light crowd doesn't have a chance of staying alert either. The only hope is to fire up the Zippo, light up an unfiltered lucky strike and gulp down the largest, blackest coffee one can find.


I heard Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" saturday night in CVS, and immediately drove home and downloaded it. I'm not sure if I've ever done that before, but it just seemed like the thing to do.

Bad news from last week:

Laptop hard drive died, truck alternator died, left car windows down in the rain, two parking tickets, called on by evil professors.

On the bright side, Dell sent a 60gb hard drive to replace my defective 20 gb, which should be a very nice improvement. I already had a spare alternator in my green tub for the GMC, so there wasn't any real problem there, just the annoyance of swaping them.

Otherwise, I'm still overwhelmed with stuff to do, from class reading and replacing 3 weeks worth of notes lost when the laptop died to the whole job hunting process. (On that note, anyone that has connections with a law firm, preferably in the Midwest doing IP, let me know. Bribes of homebrew are available for good job leads. )



Some brief thoughts on the Hurricane:

*Revised to fix some errors and add a link..enjoy*

A. Stop being so damn surprised. This goes for both the general public and the media, but especially the media. My parents receive U.S. News and World Reports, and often, but not always have National Geographic around as well. This is relevant because the very last time that I was in Montpelier, I flipped through several weeks worth of U.S. News, including the July 18th issue. Reading that article reminded me, fleetingly at the time, of an article in National Geographic with a cool photo of a man wading in deep water with a B&W picture of Hurricane devastation. Also, last month's Discover Magazine ran an article about the cyclic nature of Hurricane seasons that clearly indicated that this fall would be a busy one metrologically.

B. I'd be pretty cautious about claiming that Hurricanes are more common or prevalent now than in the past. The historical stats on Hurricane occurrence are particularly good since there are few unrecorded Hurricanes (that touch land) compared to the relatively high percentage of, say unrecorded tornados 100 years ago.