Great reads of the day:
- Planned Parenthood is finally speaking out about the one issue most affecting our teenagers: “Vampires may be immortal, but you’re not… Ladies, just because a vampire says he can’t get you pregnant*, it doesn’t mean he can’t give you an STD.”
Now, I realize that not all political persuasions can get behind Planned Parenthood (after all, they’re not winning points with “family values” voters by endorsing May-December—erm, okay, that’s an understatement—vampire relationships). If you don’t want to encourage your teens to hook up with the undead, you might want to turn to the CDC‘s guidelines on how to survive or escape them instead.
- Researchers release mosquitoes into the wild that kill each other through sex. Okay, well, more precisely, the parents genetically doom their offspring to death. I see the tears of despair welling up in your eyes (jealous angst, perhaps, that mosquitoes are encouraged to kill their children while human parents are denied that joy?). But, yeah, seriously, it’s kind of disturbing. I don’t mind genetically modified animals (okay, well, except the creepy ones). What I do mind is the idea that disease control actually could temporarily worsen because the people hand-picking the mosquitoes might mix up 0.5% of the little boy and girl bits.
I also am a little worried that we will not only save human lives by killing off a species of disease-infested mosquitoes, but also somehow upset the karmic balance of the world. I don’t exactly know why mosquitoes are essential to human survival, but I fully expect that all the years of suffering and itching and scratching I’ve gone through were not in vain. There’s got to be some reason we have suffered through co-existence for this long.
- Sticking with our sexy theme for the day, we turn to Unesco, the “global development agency whose missions include promoting literacy, science, clean water and education, including sex education and equal treatment for girls and young women.” There’s a fascinating drama unfolding that no one seems to give a crap about. The US is about to take away a quarter of Unesco’s budget (over $70 million) because the Palestinians were just voted in as full members. (A law from the ’90’s states that the US must cut off funds to any UN agency that does that.) The director-general of Unesco is begging Congress to change the law, while Palestinians are like, “What’s the big deal, yo? Just ignore that silly old law.” I mean, who can argue with the nobility of Unesco’s missions?However, one should keep in mind that the US boycotted Unesco for corruption and anti-Israel bias for decades (kind of a problem when you’re dealing with ancient world heritage sites that the three major religions all want to control). Also, even if the US arguments for vetoing Palestinian statehood are kinda shaky, it’s also kinda disingenuous of Fatah’s staff to say, “The P.L.O. is not a terrorist organization anymore. It exchanged letters of recognition with Israel back in 1993.” I mean, Fatah has sung kumbaya since then, but talking about 1993 doesn’t address the fact that Fatah and Hamas are all cuddly since April 2011.Hamas has members who violently work toward the destruction of Israel and deny the Holocaust to this day, in addition to its political and social service functions. And given prisoner swaps in which Israel trades over 1,000 potential militants for a single soldier, Hamas has a powerful argument that violence is the best solution for dissatisfied Palestinians. Hopefully this Unesco diplomacy disaster was worth the US embarrassment if Fatah gained a little political leverage. I also thought it was interesting that Europe divided its votes on the issue.
- Back to the sex: speaking of people screwing other people, Thomas Friedman had a good one about Citigroup getting caught selling toxic securities while making loads of money betting that those securities would fail. “Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery,” he laments, giving recommendations for how to let capitalism and the free market do the job they’re meant to do. Reminds me of This American Life’s incisive, layman-friendly reporting of the similar strategy that the hedge fund Magnetar employed (story was built on the comprehensive reporting of ProPublica).Okay, now that I’ve depressed you because all sexiness turns into sordid New York Times articles about death and destruction, I have 2 remedies to lift your spirits:
- Fascinating article that empirically shows how businesses don’t fail or succeed based on luck – rather, burgeoning profits are often the result of leaders seizing opportunities from luck, both good and bad, while lollygagging leaves you limp. Bill Gates worked hard in order to take advantage of his luck and grow his business, for instance. More interesting is the example of Progressive Insurance turning bad luck around. The CEO, “chastened by what he had heard… called his staff together and told everyone, ‘Our customers actually hate us.’ He challenged his team to create a better company.”
- I had to end with this picture because honestly I think it’s the sexiest scene in all of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.