Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Women on top?

Women account for half of the world’s population.
But the only profession where women make more money and have more power than their male colleagues is the modeling industry.
Sad, but true. But women are taking control, at least as action heroines.

Film studios are hiring Oscar winners to play tough gals.
Catherine Zeta-Jones will be in fighting form for another Zorro movie; Charlize Theron plays Aeon Flux; Halle Berry slips into the role of Storm in the X-men III.
These ladies kick the you-know-what out of the Bad Guys on the silver screen.

Needless to say, this change of heart has nothing to do with the moral conscience of the Hollywood Honchos.
They are not in the business of empowering women, but in the business of generating cold hard cash.
According to Warner Bros, female superheroes will generate about 25 per cent more in box office receipts than male superheroes.
"Young men have realized they prefer to spend two hours in the dark with a wild woman than with a man," said a report.
So no enhancement of the Equality of the Sexes cause- our superwomen are there to feed the macho in our young males. Mmmm, not exactly what Emily Pankhurst had in mind!

Needless to say, the Defenders of the Traditional Family Values are not too pleased about this new phenomenon.
"These women are both more sexually aggressive and, helped by special effects, much more rowdy violent than John Wayne or Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be," a spokesman for Plugged In Movie Review, a syndicated conservative radio program, stated.
"The old-school heroes would just gun a baddie down and then make a banal quip. The women, aided by invisible wires, keep kicking you in the head until you crumple. It's more realistic in a way and some of them are just terrifying."
It makes him sound like a whining girlyman, doesn’t it?

The actresses try to put some substance to their roles – Oscar winner Theron described her character Flux as a "strong freethinker.”
Needless to say, male adolescents are more likely to be attracted by scanty outfits and big guns than the character and morals of the super heroine.
Theron’s pic will be followed by more of the same Female Fury.

Milla Jovovich, who already gave us a taste of her heroics in “The fifth element” will beat up zombies in Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Kate Beckinsale, better known for personifying Jane Austin’s Emma, will hunt werewolves in Underworld: Evolution.

The ones that will suffer are not the screen villains, but real life action hero actors. Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone are all planning to resume their muscle-bound characters.
These three middle-aged men have to compete with well-toned and beautiful women half their age.
Let’s face it: if you are an adolescent, who do you want to goggle: a gorgeous young woman or a guy old enough to be your Dad?
What will be next? Jane Bond?
Or better, a (former) actress for Prez?
Lauren Bacall, you have my vote!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bushlexia and English

Many foreign politicians (except Tony Blair of course for obvious reasons) are self-conscious when it comes to talking to the president of the USA.
I find this out of place.
Let’s face it, George W. Bush makes a habit of slaughtering his native tongue.
They even coined a phrase for his many gaffes: Bushlexia.

A loyal Bush Watcher coined this phrase describing it as:
“a combination of dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, apraxia, illiteracy, ignorance, laziness, passive-aggressiveness, inappropriate humor, and an arrogant attitude of privilege.”

Therefore, I don’t see why any foreign dignitary should be worried.
So what if they misuse a word or don’t know exactly how to pronounce it?
Just look at the following quote of the current Prez:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.
They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

And what about this gem?

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business.
Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."
Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004 5, 2004

You see my point? Let’s first wait for a president with proper language skills before we criticize non-Anglo politicians….

And most foreign politicians are fluent in two or more languages, in contrast to the 43rd President of the USA who personifies the old joke:
“what do you call someone who only speaks one language? Monolingual? No, American!”

A lesson in democracy

We all love to live in a democratic country. Heck, Bush even started a war to implement the Greater Good of Democracy on the unwilling Iraqi masses….

But if people had a choice, would they opt for democracy?
The subjects of the King of Bhutan opposed their ruler’s intention to abdicate and transfer his powers to an elected parliament.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bhutan, it’s a small country nestled in the Eastern Himalayas. Believed to be the real Shangri-La of legend, Bhutan is a preserve of Himalayan cultural and an ecological paradise. Bhutan or "Druk Yul" (Land of the Thunder Dragon) is one of the world's smallest countries with an area that is about the size of Switzerland (or half the size of Indiana).

Its ruler is the “Dragon King” Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
The UK-educated king is married to four queens (all sisters), has 5 daughters and 5 sons, drives a Toyota, loves American Basketball, and rules over the world's last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom.
Like his late father, the current King follows a careful strategy of modernisation while still trying to preserve Bhutanese culture.
He even coined a special phrase, stating that his goal is to increase the Gross National Happiness of his peole (in contrast to just go for Gross National Income).

For the last 30 years, the king was able to increase literacy levels, life expectancy and household incomes of his 750,000 subjects.
To save its natural beauty, 60% of the country has to be forested forever and hunting is prohibited.
Cultural preservation of language, dress and architecture are required by law and satellite dishes are banned.
Tourism is controlled by a strict quota to keep out the cultural litter that has infiltrated other Himalayan areas.

The King's ideas about statesmanship are clear:
"It is the system, not the throne, which is important.
A monarchy is not the best form government because a King is chosen by birth and not by merit.
The people of Bhutan must be able to establish a system which works for them

However, his plans to abdicate are strongly apposed by the nation's mostly-Buddhist population. His people fear it will only bring corruption and controversy to their beloved home country. Considering the current situation in most Western democratic countries, this fear isn’t unjustified.
Moreover, tucked away between some of the world's most overcrowded, impoverished, and ecologically decimated countries in Asia (China (Tibet), India, Bangladesh and Nepal), Bhutan is increasingly being encroached on by the outside.

Ironically enough, the way his subjects oppose his plans is very democratic indeed:
thousands turned out for a protest in the capital Thimphu.
If the protesters succeed, the democratic will of the Bhutanese people, that is expressed in a democratic way, will lead to rejecting democracy in Bhutan for now.....

Ah, if only my professor philosophy would still be alive to comment!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

KISS and tell

Gene Simmons, the flamboyant base player of the rock group KISS is being sued.
A woman in her fifties, Georgeann Walsh Ward, claims to be a former girlfriend of the rocker, started proceedings at the beginning of this year.
It all started when VH1 produced the rockumentary “When KISS Ruled The World” that followed the band’s 30-year career, its impact on rock music, and the wild antics of its members.
It was broadcasted numerous times.

In the documentary, Simmons claimed to have had sexual encounters with 4,600 women.
He also stated that “there wasn't a girl that was off limits, and I enjoyed every one of them” and “all I ever thought about was sex.”
During these remarks, a photo of Ward with Simmons was shown.
Ms. Walsh Ward decided to sue Simmons, his company, KISS Catalog, and VH1 parent Viacom of defamation and invasion of privacy, since she was in effect portrayed as “wild” and “unchaste.”

I don’t get it. This woman admitted that she was sleeping with Simmons when she was a student. The photos used on TV dated from that period. It wasn't Simmons who put them on screen, but the rockumentary makers.
Simmons, known for his brutal honesty, for sure never made any bones about being (to phrase it politely) a ladies’ man with a huge appetite.
Her claim that they were in an “exclusive, monogamous, romantic relationship” sounds as sincere as a politician’s promise during his/her election campaign.

State Supreme Court Justice Rosalyn Richter (what's in a name? "richter" means "judge" in German!) at least had the good sense to dismiss Walsh Ward’s claim that her likeness was used for commercial purposes without her permission.
Georgeann Dear obviously didn’t realize that the law does not bar editorial use of photographs in documentaries or news publications.
But the other claims still stand.
“Social mores regarding sex between unmarried persons have changed, but the law still says that calling a woman unchaste is defamation,” according to the judge.
Interesting, must Georgeann prove that she was/is “chaste” while admitting that she bedded a rocker known for his raunchy lifestyle?
Since Mr. Simmons is very clear about his outlook on marriage, I am sure that there were no promises made, so doesn’t that leave our Georgeann in an illicit relationship?

Furthermore, Georgann’s name was not mentioned in the rockumentary, which as far as I know, is necessary for defamation of character.
Moreover, Ms. G. claims to be so worried about her reputation. Why did she sue, thus ensuring that her name would be splattered all over the gossip columns?
Once in the courtroom she will be forced to bear it all.
I am sure that the last thing her son wants to hear is the level of chasteness of his mother…

Well, to me, the issue is clear.
Ms. G. obviously thinks that KISS and Simmons are spelled KI$$ and $immon$.
She saw herself on TV and smelled a golden opportunity for shaking GS (who is an extremely successful business mogul) for some serious dinero.
The law in question sounds like it was last put into effect during the Salem Witch Trials.
(Don’t you agree that anyone winning a case that confirms a person is “chaste” just makes that person look like a wimp?)

Before Ms. Walsh goes on, let me give her a word of advice.
Simmons didn’t become the highly successful businessman he is by being taken for a ride.
I would be very careful if I were in her shoes – Gene might opt to get even.
He has the power, the patience, and the resources to sue her for the rest of her natural life, which is a lawyer’s heaven and everybody else’s nightmare.
And if Mr. Simmons wants to have another legal eagle on his team, I will be happy to oblige.....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Madonna - a rabbi's blessing in disguise?

Madonna, the poster girl for Berg’s version of Kabbalah, is planning to visit Israel during the Hanukkah holiday.
Madonna, who refers to herself as "Esther" is planning to visit Israel during the upcoming Chanukkah holiday.
She wants to seek the blessing of Israel's leading Kabbalist - Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri.
(First off, considering her new name, it would be more fitting for her to visit Israel during Purim).
This is the second time that Madonna asked to be blessed; the previous time (in 2004) the rabbi refused even to meet her.
This time around, Madonna’s managers apparently also contacted the rabbi's associates, including the rav’s grandson Yossi Kaduri, to try and set up a meeting between the pop singer and the rabbi.
You see, mother-of-two Madonna wants to have another child but first wants to receive Kaduri’s blessing.
(I am not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China, but I applaud her motherly instincts).
All in all, I am quite puzzled.
For starters, it just doesn’t make sense.Madonna is Catholic, so it would make more sense for her to visit the Pope.
(The new one seems like a decent bloke, so give it a shot, Madge).
Furthermore, someone has to explain to her that just using the name Esther doesn’t make her Jewish. If I would get a dollar for every non-Jewish girl called Esther, I could buy myself some serious real estate. (The Hamptons spring to mind).
It’s nice that she has a spiritual life, but her version of Kabbalah is not exactly mainstream.
I cannot blame organizations such as the International Society for Sephardic Progress to go into a hissy fit and urge Kaduri to shun her.
And our Madge doesn’t exactly have what we call neshamah.
Remarks such as "It would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party (instead of the Kabbalah Center)," only show that she doesn’t have an inking about Jewish sensitivities.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire Madonna for the marketing genius she is, but I would like to suggest the following.
Once in Israel, I would like her to give a concert, free of charge, and invite her fans and admirers from both sides of the (security) fence.
Let Israelis and Palestinians together belt out songs and make dance moves.
It might not be a Kabbalah blessing, but it would for sure be a true Mitzvah!