Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Best. Comment. Ever.

Earlier this week I found this email — with the word "Pills or dinner?" in the subject line — in one of my inboxes:

I then forwarded it on to our good friend Jill Stanek, who, dissected it ably.

The real fun, though, is in the comments, where one John Lewandowski (a blogger at PA Water Cooler) threw in some gems — most notably this one:

BTW, potential solution to the problem:

Birth Control - It's what's for dinner!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Logical Outcome of a Culture with an Anemic Understanding of What Sex Really Is

Considering that we live in a culture that assumes teaching abstinence is unrealistic, it certainly should come as no surprise when we hear stories like this one, headlined, "Report of student sex halts after-school club".

And let's not kid ourselves: this is hardly an isolated incident.

Now, if it's true that it's unrealistic to expect that kids will abstain — as so-called comprehensive sex education programs contend — that means it's always unrealistic to expect that kids will abstain.

In other words, if one generally assumes kids can't control their sexual desires, why would one assume that they can control them while they're in school?

Kids don't need lessons on how to have "safe sex" "safer sex".

Instead, what they really need is genuine love and affection. It's bleeding obvious that's what they're starving for.

[HT: Mark Shea]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Life (No Pun Intended) Imitating Art


Jim Caviezel, the actor known for playing Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ,” had been outspoken about his Catholic Christian beliefs. Wondering if he was as committed to his values as his words indicated, a friend said to him, “(Not) unless you adopt a child – and not any child but a disabled child. – will I believe in you.”

Caviezel’s response - “Okay, so when I do, will you become pro-life?”

The friend indicated he would.

That conversation led Caviezel and his wife Kerri on a journey to China where they met a five-year-old boy named Bo living in an orphanage. During an interview on the radio program “Christopher Closeup,” Caviezel recalled that Bo was abandoned on a train as a baby and grew up in the orphanage. At the facility, children were told “that they had no mommy, that they were born out of the dirt.”

Bo had a more significant challenge besides his living circumstances. He had a brain tumor that threatened his life. Caviezel and his wife adopted Bo and supported him through his brain surgery when they didn’t know if he would live or die. Bo remains a beloved member of the Caviezel’s family today.

So what happened with the friend who said that if Jim adopted a sick child, he would become pro-life?

Caviezel says, “He didn’t make good on his word. But it didn’t matter to me because the joy that we had from (Bo) – he’s like our own.”

...reminds me of this:

Bart and Homer race wildly after Lisa until she pushes the pig grill off the top of a slope. The pig passes through a hedge.

Homer: It's just a little dirty. It's still good, it's still good!
[Passes traffic, jumps a bridge and lands in the water.]
It's just a little slimy, it's still good, it's still good!
[It gets caught in a dam spillway, and when the pressure builds,
it shoots into the sky.
It's just a little airborne, it's still good, it's still good!
Bart: [Crestfallen.] It's gone.
Homer: I know...

Monty Burns and Smithers stand at the window of Burns' office.

Burns: You know, Smithers, I think I'll donate a million dollars to
the local orphanage...when pigs fly!
[They laugh. The pig sails across the sky before them.]

Smithers: Will you be donating that million dollars now, Sir?
Burns: Nooo, I'd still prefer not. [source]

HT: Mark Shea

Friday, April 25, 2008

Holy Ill-Chosen (Albeit Unwittingly Very Revealing) Simile, Batman!

From yesterday's Chicago Tribune:

Fertility test claims to measure good eggs

Critics say it can't tell conception odds

By Judith Graham | Tribune reporter
11:25 PM CDT, April 23, 2008

A new medical test for women who want to check their biological clocks is debuting in Chicago amid concerns about its usefulness and enormous interest in the consequences of delayed childbearing.

Called Plan Ahead, it is the first fertility test that purports to measure a woman's "ovarian reserve"—how many good eggs she has available for conception.

The $350 test will be marketed to women who are contemplating when to have children and who want to recognize any potential biological limitations.

And then cometh example #576142142360798 of our decadent culture's contemptuous objectification of women's bodies:

Dr. Benjamin Leader, chief medical officer for the company marketing the test, Repromedix, compares it to checking the gas gauge on a car to see how much is left in the tank.

The cynic in me says this has rapacious hucksterism written all over it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our Tax Dollars at Work

I'm with Mark Shea on this one:

I think we would be well served if most of the executive and legislative branches went without public funding, for the very simple reason that the vast majority of our ruling class are millionaires who don't need my money, but confiscate it from me anyway when I could really use it myself. I'd also love to know that I am not paying for keeping Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter wealthier than they need to be.

Do *you* think we should be paying for Bill Clinton's retirement? Does this seem like a sound use of your confiscated money?

I might be able to be persuaded that elected officials should be paid minimium wage, but if it's such an "honor" to "serve" the people (read: us), I think there's a stronger case to be made that they should be paid a salary of exactly nothing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Words of Wisdom from Servant of God Dorothy Day

At FestungArnulfinger, The Dutchman has drawn our attention to these wise words of Servant of God Dorothy Day:

Thinking gloomily of the sins and shortcomings of others, it suddenly came to me to remember my own offenses, just as heinous as those of others. If I concern myself with my own sins and lament them, if I remember my own failures and lapses, I will not be resentful of others. This was most cheering and lifted the load of gloom from my mind. It makes people unhappy to judge people and happy to love them.

This prompted me to recall this beautiful prayer from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which the people say just prior to receiving Holy Communion:

O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the World to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of your mystical supper, O Son of God, for I will not reveal Your mysteries to our enemies, nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief will I confess to You.

This, in turn, prompted me to make an addition to the blog's side menu that I've been meaning to make for a while now, which also has its origins in the Eastern Church — the eminently pithy Jesus Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

[HT for the Jesus Prayer picture: crazyacres]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Show Me a Culture That Despises Virginitiy and I'll Show You a Culture That Despises Children *

A British pollster asks 3,500 people what they think are the worst blights on modern society, and the "dominant opinion" is that religion per se is a "social evil".

Meanwhile, the British uber-retailer Tesco is marketing padded bras to seven year olds.

To co-opt a line from an old Kinks song: There's no England now.

* HT for the meme: Mark Shea

Monday, April 21, 2008

Court Rules That Disabled Woman Is Not an Animal

And, as such, she can't be sterilized against her will.

Coincidentally, tomorrow marks the 81st anniversary of the day Buck v. Bell was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

This Is Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better

I was pleased to see this fine piece of investigative reporting on the front page of Thursday's Chicago Tribune about all the things you don't want in your drinking water but actually are in your drinking water.

In the article, the writers mentioned the increasingly obvious dangers to our water supply posed by, among others, estrogenic chemicals:

Other researchers are trying to figure out which drugs pose the greatest health risks. Some over-the-counter medications might be found in higher concentrations in drinking water, for instance, but small amounts of chemotherapy drugs and birth control pills could prove to be more toxic. Moreover, there are many drugs, pesticides, detergents and other chemicals that mimic human hormones. These substances, known collectively as endocrine disrupters, are seen as potential contributors to various types of cancer, birth defects and developmental problems.

"What we are seeing are the inconvenient consequences of a convenient lifestyle," said Conrad Volz, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh who studies environmental hazards. "Given what we already know about many of these compounds, there is reason for concern."

The inconvenient consequences of a convenient lifestyle — indeed.

Clearly, it's good to see more MSM news outlets report on the serious dangers birth control pills pose to the environment (that is, to ourselves). I fear, however, that this problem is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

This is a classic application of Mark Shea's Two Phases of History. Phase One, you may recall, is:

What could it hurt?

Phase Two, which we are on the cusp of entering, is:

How could we have known?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Abortion As Art?

**UPDATE, 4/18, 4:55pm: A Yale spokesperson says Shvarts' project was a hoax. Shvarts disagrees.

There has already been a lot of reaction among pro-lifers to the news that a Yale student, Aliza Shvarts, plans to display for her senior art project "a documentation of a nine-month process" during which she repeatedly got pregnant and took drugs to induce abortions on herself.

An article in the Yale Daily News also reports:

[Shvarts] said she was not concerned about any medical effects the forced miscarriages may have had on her body. The abortifacient drugs she took were legal and herbal, she said, and she did not feel the need to consult a doctor about her repeated miscarriages.

Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, has issued a challenge to the major pro-abortion groups:

"I call on Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW and all other so-called pro-choice groups to condemn this. Abortion should never be trivialized as a matter of 'art.'"

It will be hard for them to do that, as these groups have been saying for decades that women should be able to have abortions for any reason at all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Viva il Papa!

On the occasion of our Holy Father's visit to our country, it's worth taking some time to consider the three simple yet deeply profound words he has chosen for the theme of his journey:

Christ Our Hope

It is through Our Lord Jesus Christ that we hope to become saints. Indeed, one of the best metaphors I've ever heard used to describe His Catholic Church is that of a great big Saint-Making Machine.

On this occasion, I can't help but recall a powerfully moving video called "Movie", produced by Catholics Come Home — the same apostolate that produced another amazingly cool video called "Epic", which I first mentioned a few months ago. (Scroll down at the above link to view either video.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

There's Only One Problem with This Shirt

What does one do if, whilst wearing it, he is offered a beer?

After all, it would simply be incongruous to leave the message on the shirt visible to all at the same time one is drinking a beer.

How to resolve this quandary?

I guess he could simply put another shirt on over it. ("Out of sight, out of mind...")

Or perhaps cover over the message with duct tape.

Or, if not in mixed company, I suppose a fellow could simply take the shirt off.

HT: Gary Keith Chesterton via Sean Dailey at Blue Boar

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hobnobbing with the Uber-Rich

The sui generis zombie has a smashingly good photo essay on an off-the-radar-screen fundraiser for the junior senator from our fair corrupt state held earlier this week at the Getty mansion on San Francisco's Billionaires Row.

Check thou it out.

HT: Christina at Real Choice

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cry Rooms

I just posted the following on the Catholic Dads blog:

I'm curious to get the input from others in Catholic Dads-Land on the subject of cry rooms in churches.

Which of the following most accurately reflects your attitude toward cry rooms?

  • (a) Cry rooms are an abomination before the Lord.

  • (b) Cry rooms are a pretty neat idea.

  • (c) Meh. I don't have an opinion.

  • (d) Other: __________________________________________.

Personally, I am incurably in the (a) camp: Cry rooms are an abomination before the Lord.

The idea that a parish would tacitly — or, in some (many?) cases, not so tacitly — encourage families with young children to physically isolate themselves from the rest of the congregation seems rather inimical to the Faith (cf. Mark 10:13-15).

I recently read an article about a Chicago priest, Father Matt Foley,* who has volunteered to serve as an Army chaplain in Iraq, and how his parishioners at St. Agnes of Bohemia, to whom he has greatly endeared himself, will miss him.

The article notes made it known at the parish "how he enjoyed hearing babies cry during mass because they sounded full of life."

And how.

Now, I'm not saying that if any of our issue are throwing a tantrum or screaming bloody murder during Mass that we shouldn't bring them to the back of church for a time until they calm down.

But this to me seems markedly different from the idea that a church should have an entire room set aside for purposes of segregating families with young children from the rest of the congregation.

* (As a footnote, this article confirmed something I had heard several years ago about the aforesaid priest, Father Matt Foley, from someone I knew who used to teach at his parish's grade school: "Up through college, Foley was a troublemaker, a partyer. As a political science major at Marquette University, he played rugby with fellow student and soon-to-be-famous comedian Chris Farley, known for his life of excess. Farley, who died in 1997, named one of his most revered 'Saturday Night Live' characters, a bumbling motivational speaker, after Foley.")

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

You Gotta Love the Irony

Last Wednesday, at a General Assembly hearing in the Capitol building of our fair corrupt state, the following exchange took place between Ill Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) and longtime atheist activist Rob Sherman (the latter is currently suing the State of Illinois over its moment of silence in public schools law):

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him.  We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic --  when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight.  They want to fight prayer in school. 

I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln  where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to  [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

(The audio is here, courtesy of the Illinois Information Service.)

Here's what I found particularly ironic about the the whole thing:

Rob Sherman is pro-life.

Monique Davis is "pro-choice".

Now, Sherman is no stranger to this sort of decidedly un-Christian treatment from Christians. (Last fall, for example, his house got egged by vandals who wrote "JESSUS" [sic] in big yellow letters in his driveway.)

Maybe it's because I've met Sherman before (he had me on his radio show last fall because my boss, Joe Scheidler, a longtime friend of his, was originally supposed to be on, but then ended up going out of town and asked me to fill in for him), and because I can't help but like him that I find hearing about extraordinarily obnoxious things said to him by Christians to be so troubling.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but maybe, just maybe, acting boorishly toward atheists may not be a very effective way to win them over.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rest in Peace, Sister Justilla

Last Thursday I attended the funeral of Sr. Mary Justilla Podgorski, with whom I worked at Good Counsel High School in Chicago from 2000 until it closed in 2003. She was 90 years old.

From the first time we met in August of 2000, she and I had a great friendship. It was my first year teaching—and, in fact, my first job out of college—and Sister Justilla went out of her way to befriend me and to make me feel welcome at GC, which had been run since 1927 by her order, the Felician Sisters.

Her willingness to go out of her way to make me as a new teacher feel welcome was owed not only to her warm personality, of course, but also no doubt to her years of experience as a principal, having previously welcomed hundreds of teachers into a school community.

One of the first few days of teacher in-services, prior to the start of the actual school year itself, Sister Justilla invited me to visit the Felicians’ Chicago Province Motherhouse (where she lived) next door to the school, where she introduced me to many of the other sisters, and showed me around their chapel, taking the time to explain the scenes depicted in its beautiful stained-glass windows.

She invited me to come there for Mass one Sunday, which Jocelyn and I (we were newly engaged at the time) did shortly thereafter, after which she insisted we stay for lunch—which we gladly did.

By the time I met her, she had been retired from teaching/administrative duties for some time, but in her eighties still had the full-time job of running the attendance office, which she did with all the diligence you would expect from a nun who was sharp as a tack.

When it was announced in the fall of 2002 that Good Counsel would be closing at the end of the school year, the students were crushed. But so too—perhaps even more so—were the Felician Sisters.

Jocelyn and I kept in touch with Sister Justilla periodically after the school closed, and she told me on more than one occasion, “When GC closed, my health did, too.”

Despite a series of health problems these past few years, however, she always maintained a cheerful disposition. She especially loved to hear how our kids were doing, and always told us how precious they are. Often when she called, it was to tell us she had “a little something” for the kids, which gave me a chance to stop by and see her. The last time I saw her was last October 31, as she had some Halloween candy she wanted to give them.

Jocelyn and I spoke with her over the phone at least once or twice since then, and a few weeks ago she sent us an Easter card. We had been meaning to call her to thank her the card—in fact, on the whiteboard on our fridge was a note saying, “Call Sr. Justilla”—but we never got a chance to speak with her again.

In one of those “There really is no such thing as a coincidence” sort of ways, Jocelyn tried calling Sister Justilla Thursday morning around 9:40, but when she reached the convent and tried the extension for her room, the automated system said the extension was invalid.

She then tried the reception desk. When she asked for Sister Justilla, the receptionist, taken rather aback, said she had died, and that her funeral was about to begin at 10:00.

Jocelyn called me at work to tell me, and although I was by no means dressed in what I would consider proper funeral attire, I had to go.

Thankfully, the office where I now work is only about a mile from Felicians’ Motherhouse, so I made it in time to pay my last respects before her casket was closed.

Three priests offered the funeral Mass, the main celebrant having been a third-grade pupil of Sister Justilla’s six decades ago (he had recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination—at a Mass Sister Justilla had herself attended).

The opening song was “Let the Holy Anthem Rise”, the third verse of which I had never paid much attention to theretofore, but now realize how fitting it is for a Mass of Christian Burial:

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Blessed Jesus make us rise,
From the life of this corruption
To the life that never dies.
May your glory be our portion,
When the days of time are past,
And the dead shall be awakened
By the trumpet's mighty blast.

Please pray for Sister Justilla.

Requiem æternam dona ea, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ea.

Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Students of Virginity"

In last Sunday's New York Times magazine, there's an interesting feature story on a new movement among students on Ivy League university campuses to embrace chastity. It highlights in particular an abstinence club at Harvard called True Love Revolution.

Now, not at all surprisingly, given the Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations, the story has some flaws.

At one point, for example, the author, Randall Patterson, mentions the 2004 Waxman Report, which, he states, "found that 11 of 13 abstinence curriculums that his government-reform committee examined were rife with scientific errors and false and misleading information about the risks of sexual activity".

He says nothing further about the Waxman Report—and he certainly doesn't refer to the thorough critiques thereof, which show that the Waxman Report itself is full of errors and false and misleading information.

On the whole, though, the article is quite good, and portrays the courageous students who are boldly proclaiming the value of chastity in a favorable light.

The article focuses a great deal on one member of True Love Revolution, Janie Fredell, who has a gift for articulating a range of arguments for why living chastely is a common sense lifestyle choice:

“It’s an odd thing to see one’s lifestyle essentially attacked in The Crimson,” Fredell said. She began to feel a need to stand up for her beliefs, and what she believed in more than anything at Harvard was the value of not having premarital sex. In an essay she wrote for The Crimson, she asserted that “virginity is extremely alluring,” though its “mysterious allure . . . is not rooted in an image of innocence and purity, but rather in the notion of strength.” As she told me later, “It takes a strong woman to be abstinent, and that’s the sort of woman I want to be.”

During the club's first year, they made a lot of enemies:

...True Love Revolution was also assailed as “ridiculous, bogus, probably judgmental, almost certainly backward and putting forth bad, irrational, pointless arguments that didn’t belong in a university culture.” It was a long year.

But they definitely didn't give up:

“People just don’t get it,” Fredell said. “Everyone thinks we’re trying to promote this idea of the meek little virgin female.” She said she was doing no such thing. “I care deeply for women’s rights,” she said. Fredell was studying not just religion but also gender politics — and was reading Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” alongside John Stuart Mill’s “Subjection of Women.” She had awakened to the wage gap, to forced sterilization and female genital mutilation — to the different ways that men have, she said, of controlling women. One of these was sexual. Fredell had seen it often in her own life — men pushing for sex, she said, just to “have something to say in the locker room,” women feeling pressured to have sex in order to maintain a relationship. The more she studied and learned, the more Fredell came to realize that women suffer from having premarital sex, “due to a cultural double standard,” she said, “which devalues women for their sexual pasts and glorifies men for theirs.”

She said she read in Mill that women are subordinated in relationships as a result of “socially constructed norms.” If men are commonly more promiscuous than women, it is only because the culture allows it, she said. Fredell was here to turn society around. “It’s extremely countercultural,” she said, for a woman to assert control over her own body. It is, in fact, a feminist notion. Conventional feminism, she explained, teaches that control of your body means the freedom to have sex without consequences — sex like a man. “I am an unconventional feminist,” Fredell said, in the sense that she asserts control by choosing not to have sex — by telling men, no, absolutely not.

While Fredell framed her own abstinence in a feminist perspective, she was careful to say that women were not the only ones to benefit. “It’s not all about protecting women,” she said. “It’s about protecting people.” To prove her point, she said the membership of True Love Revolution was equally divided between women and men.

Fredell also beautifully explained how chastity is freeing:

Her girlfriends are surprised that she can maintain a relationship without having sex, she said, but her boyfriend, at Georgetown, “knew from the get-go what he was getting into.” Fredell does not make sexual demands of him nor does he make demands of her. “So I’m free!” she said. “I’m free to experience the emotional and intellectual and spiritual intimacy of another person.” By closing herself off to sex, she claims to have found the humanity in her boyfriend and to have opened herself to an experience of love. “I’ll share this with you,” Fredell confided. “He said conversations with me were more enjoyable than sex would be with anyone else.” Every woman, she said, should have this “incredibly moving experience” of being appreciated for who she really is.

Read the whole thing here.

[Cross-posted at Generations for Life]

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Show Me the Money! Part 2

The UCLA pro-life student group Live Action has just released the second video in a series exposing Planned Parenthood's racism:

Read more about their investigation here.

HT: Jill Stanek


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Punch in the Gut to the Condom Racket

There's a devastating critique of primarily condom-based AIDS prevention programs in Africa in the current issue of First Things ("AIDS and the Churches: Getting the Story Right").

It's also worth noting that one of the authors of said article, Edward Green, is a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who never went to college an anti-gay Bible-thumping preacher the director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies; the other author, Allison Herling Ruark, is a research fellow there.

Of particular note from the article:

Consider this fact: In every African country in which HIV infections have declined, this decline has been associated with a decrease in the proportion of men and women reporting more than one sex partner over the course of a year—which is exactly what fidelity programs promote. The same association with HIV decline cannot be said for condom use, coverage of HIV testing, treatment for curable sexually transmitted infections, provision of antiretroviral drugs, or any other intervention or behavior. The other behavior that has often been associated with a decline in HIV prevalence is a decrease in premarital sex among young people.

If AIDS prevention is to be based on evidence rather than ideology or bias, then fidelity and abstinence programs need to be at the center of programs for general populations. Outside Uganda, we have few good models of how to promote fidelity, since attempts to advocate deep changes in behavior have been almost entirely absent from programs supported by the major Western donors and by AIDS celebrities. Yet Christian churches—indeed, most faith communities—have a comparative advantage in promoting the needed types of behavior change, since these behaviors conform to their moral, ethical, and scriptural teachings. What the churches are inclined to do anyway turns out to be what works best in AIDS prevention.


In fact, the mainstream HIV/AIDS community has continued to champion condom use as critical in all types of HIV epidemics, in spite of the evidence. While high rates of condom use have contributed to fewer infections in some high-risk populations (prostitutes in concentrated epidemics, for instance), the situation among Africa’s general populations remains much different. It has been clearly established that few people outside a handful of high-risk groups use condoms consistently, no matter how vigorously condoms are promoted. Inconsistent condom usage is ineffective—and actually associated with higher HIV infection rates due to “risk compensation,” the tendency to take more sexual risks out of a false sense of personal safety that comes with using condoms some of the time. A UNAIDS-commissioned 2004 review of evidence for condom use concluded, “There are no definite examples yet of generalized epidemics that have been turned back by prevention programs based primarily on ­condom promotion.” A 2000 article in The Lancet similarly stated, “Massive increases in condom use world-wide have not translated into demonstrably improved HIV control in the great majority of countries where they have occurred.”


Thus far, research has produced no evidence that condom promotion—or indeed any of the range of risk-reduction interventions popular with donors—has had the desired impact on HIV-infection rates at a population level in high-prevalence generalized epidemics. This is true for treatment of sexually ­transmitted infections, voluntary counseling and ­testing, diaphragm use, use of experimental vaginal microbicides, safer-sex counseling, and even income-­generation projects. The interventions relying on these measures have failed to decrease HIV-infection rates, whether implemented singly or as a package. One recent randomized, controlled trial in Zimbabwe found that even possible synergies that might be achieved through “integrated implementation” of “control strategies” had no impact in slowing new infections at the population level. In fact, in this trial there was a somewhat higher rate of new infections in the intervention group compared to the control group.


Meanwhile, the other interventions that have generally been called “best practices” simply do not seem to work in generalized epidemics, even though they are still applauded loudly at global AIDS conferences, while mention of fidelity and abstinence is received by booing, as Bill Gates discovered at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006. If we are to progress beyond science-by-popular-acclaim, we must accept that the evidence is much stronger for fidelity or partner reduction than for any of the standard-package HIV-prevention measures—in Africa at least—and so we need to rethink and reprogram AIDS-prevention interventions.

Admittedly, changing direction is hard when there has been massive investment in these “best practices.” It is not in the interest of a multibillion-dollar global AIDS industry to endorse interventions that are low-cost and homegrown and that rely on simple behavior change rather than medical products or services provided by outside experts. And so the major donors of AIDS programs continue to do the same things, expecting different results.

Ah, yes— the Bullwinkle approach.

Some people just never learn:

"Punished with a Baby"?

Word is slowly beginning to get around — mostly via the pro-life, conservative, and Christian communities within this thing we call the Internet — about a telling remark Barack Obama made at a campaign stop this Saturday in Johnstown, PA. (Although considering his support for live-birth abortion, it's not at all surprising.)

The junior senator from our fair corrupt state was asked, if he were elected president, how his administration would deal with HIV/AIDS and preventing STDs in young girls.

Obama responded [emphasis added]:

-- or we give them really expensive surgery and we don't spend money on the front end keeping people healthy in the first place. So when it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include -- which should include abstinence education and teaching the children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals.

But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16. You know, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information.

First, regarding this last part: If Obama really is interested in not withholding information from teenagers that will help them avoid getting an STD, what kind of information is he talking about?