April 27, 2005

Dear 'The Onion'...

Thank you for making me laugh just when I thought Capitol Hill couldn't get me down any farther.

Guess What - It's Tom DeLay's Frisbee Now

Hee hee (o;

Posted by zippy at 4:36 PM

weather, honey, tomb raider

Ok, I've been bitching about this for a week now, but must put it into words - first, what I've been bitching about since I moved to the DC area. These forecasters are AWFUL! I mean, not just like, normal meteorologist bad, but awful like they predict the opposite of what the weather turns out to be. I know I don't need to bring up the foot of snow that we were going to get - run out and buy your foodstuffs before you rot inside your house covered in a cavern of snow, which turned out to be about 3-4". Or the wonderfully sunny days when it's raining, or when they tell you it might be raining sometime in the afternoon and you can clearly see past the windshield wipers that there is a downpour happening as they say it on the radio.

At this point (and even they get it wrong a lot) the only somewhat reliable source I have is my local National Weather Service forecast, which isn't full of goofy & confusing maps or ads or the face of a cheesy local weather forecaster doodling his crappy predictions on a blue screen. Now, my ever favorite senator Rick Santorum is trying to stay true to his donors by shutting down public access to the free NWS forecast so that weather corporations don't lose money. Oh wait, it's to protect the public, right. I forgot.

Seriously. I don't even know what. But seriously.

In better news, I found Trader Joe's Creamed Honey last night and I love it. It's like the Parkay of honey - it's pure honey but easily spreadable. Yummm.

In sillier news, I was researching one of our association members and found a link to some Lara Croft fan ficion (I know, how does one make that leap?) and even better - look at the site it's hidden on!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Tough guys selling guns and writing love stories about Lara Croft!! HAHAHAHA!!!

My forecast is being threatened but there are still reasons to smile.

Posted by zippy at 10:06 AM

April 19, 2005

A few words for Benedict XVI...

(thanks to Monty who heard this on Bill Maher)

Teen Pledges Barely Cut STD Rates, Study Says

By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 19, 2005; Page A03

Teenagers who take virginity pledges -- public declarations to abstain from sex -- are almost as likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease as those who never made the pledge, an eight-year study released yesterday found.

Although young people who sign a virginity pledge delay the initiation of sexual activity, marry at younger ages and have fewer sexual partners, they are also less likely to use condoms and more likely to experiment with oral and anal sex, said the researchers from Yale and Columbia universities.

"The sad story is that kids who are trying to preserve their technical virginity are, in some cases, engaging in much riskier behavior," said lead author Peter S. Bearman, a professor at Columbia's Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. "From a public health point of view, an abstinence movement that encourages no vaginal sex may inadvertently encourage other forms of alternative sex that are at higher risk of STDs."

Rates of Disease

The findings are based on the federally funded National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a survey begun in 1995 that tracked 20,000 young people from high school to young adulthood. At the start of the project, the students were 12 to 18 years old and agreed to detailed, sexually explicit interviews. They were re-interviewed in 1997 and again in 2002, when 11,500 also provided urine samples.

Virginity pledges emerged in the early 1990s based on the theory that young people would remain chaste if they had stronger community support -- or pressure -- to remain abstinent. Programs vary, but in most cases teenagers voluntarily sign a pledge or publicly announce their intention to abstain from sex. Often pledgers receive a pin or ring to symbolize the promise and team up with an "accountability partner."

Since it was founded in 1993, the virginity group True Love Waits claims 2.4 million youths have signed a card stating: "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, those I date, and my future mate to be sexually pure until the day I enter marriage."

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that 20 percent of those surveyed said they had taken a virginity pledge. Bearman and co-author Hannah Bruckner broke them into two categories -- "inconsistent pledgers" and "consistent pledgers" -- to reflect the fact that some changed their status or their responses between interviews. Among those youngsters, 61 percent of the consistent pledgers and 79 percent of the inconsistent pledgers reported having intercourse before marrying or prior to 2002 interviews.

Almost 7 percent of the students who did not make a pledge were diagnosed with an STD, compared with 6.4 percent of the "inconsistent pledgers" and 4.6 percent of the "consistent pledgers." Bearman said those differences were not "statistically significant," although Robert Rector, who studies domestic policy issues at the conservative Heritage Institute, said he interpreted the data to mean that young people committed to the abstinence pledge were less likely to become infected.

The study did not detect major geographic differences but found that minorities were far more likely to have an STD. About one quarter of African American girls in the survey tested positive for at least one STD in 2002.

In terms of high-risk behavior, the raw numbers were small, but the gap was statistically significant, Bearman said. Just 2 percent of youth who never took a pledge said they had had anal or oral sex but not intercourse, compared with 13 percent of "consistent pledgers."

Debate on Abstinence

The report sparked an immediate, bitter debate over the wisdom of teaching premarital abstinence.

Deborah Roffman, an educator and author of "Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex," said youths who take virginity pledges are often undereducated about sexual health. "Kids who are engaging in oral sex or anal sex will tell you they are practicing abstinence because they haven't had 'real sex' yet," she said.

Ralph DiClemente, a professor at Emory University's School of Public Health in Atlanta, compared virginity pledges to adults' efforts to make New Year's resolutions.

"I wish it was that easy. We'd all be a lot healthier," he said. "If we can't do it as adults, why would we expect kids to be able to handle those issues?"

But Joe S. McIlhaney Jr., chairman of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, said the study offers an incomplete picture because it could not say whether sexually active teens who did not take a pledge had been pregnant or treated for an STD before the 2002 testing. The analysis "doesn't prove or disprove" assertions that virginity pledges are flawed, he said.

On the other hand, Bill Smith, public policy vice president for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, said, "Not only do virginity pledges not work to keep our young people safe, they are causing harm by undermining condom use, contraception and medical treatment."

Conservative academics said the paper overlooked earlier important findings about adolescents who take virginity pledges, most notably that they have fewer pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births.

"It's hugely successful on those variables," Rector said. "Bearman has focused in on the one variable he thinks can show they [pledgers] don't do better."

President Bush has requested $206 million in federal funding for abstinence-only programs this year.

Several True Love Waits officials were unavailable Friday, according to a receptionist. Telephone calls to another virginity group, the Silver Ring Thing, were not returned.

Posted by zippy at 4:51 PM

Jitterbug Perfume

It took four years in this god-forsaken pollen hell-hole (ok, it's not so bad) for me to develop and then accept that I now have allergies. It took 5 days of Rhinocort and Claritin for me to roll down the car window and suddenly smell all of spring in the air, and to be able to smell my environment at work (lots of lotion) that I haven't clearly smelled in a couple of years.

Ever the procrastinator.

Posted by zippy at 12:10 PM

April 13, 2005

For my next blasphemous entry...

Let me yammer on about the Pope. This week's Savage Love pretty much describes my feelings towards the hypocritical nature of the whole thing - we love everyone except those we don't. There were those who grew up Catholic, and there were those (me) who spent 8 years at Catholic school. And, as is the nature of many things, I have nothing bad to say about my Catholic school or parish or the priests (besides that first anti-Santa guy) because on a local, everyday level, they were open, understanding people, ready to accept change and have a dialogue and allow girls to have a part in the Mass.

But on a national & international level, Catholocism looks completely ridiculous (like, having the incriminated Boston priest head up the Pope's funeral in Rome). And all the good things that Catholics have experienced on a personal level in this country are lost and overshadowed by a bureaucracy that wants to have its cake and eat it too. Like, premarital sex & birth control are evil and you are going to hell but we're covering up priest sex abuse scandals because those men just need forgiving. Like, let's convert as many Africans to Catholocism as possible and then tell them they should die instead of using protection. Or, divorce is evil unless of course you have the funds to pretend it never happened. Blecch.

And now the intense speculation over what hemisphere the next Pope will come from, as well documented on this enlightening chart. Hehe. The truth is, they will almost assuredly pick someone with hardline stances like John Paul II, with no reality check on what it's like to live in the 21st century. And the US should love it, as he will uphold everything the country advocates now (abstinence, partriarchy, marriage above all else, hatred of gay people).

Heard an interesting piece on the BBC World News this morning - seems like a large number of Latin Americans are converting to Pentecostal churches, as they believe them to be more dynamic and in touch with the people. Hmmm, Pentecostal over Catholic? Seems like that's saying something pretty big (and scary).

Posted by zippy at 6:28 PM