Curb Your God

As Religion Tightens Grip on the
Military, Americans Grow Agnostic

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise within the U.S. armed forces, a recent paper argues, with support of high-ranked officers. The issue has concerned defenders of the constitutional separation of church and state, given the military’s sway over the government.
It also goes against the trend observed in the American society at large, which indicates that a greater than ever percentage of the population now considers themselves non-religiously affiliated. At least, 46 million Americans told that much to a Pew research study.
The discrepancy can be added to the overall disconnect between the military community, which in over a decade has been thrown into two unpopular, and vicious, conflicts, and the rest of the American society, which seems oblivious to it. It’s unclear, though, whether this tug of war benefits either side.
The truth is, as the Pentagon reinforces its grab of a huge percentage of the U.S. budget, and resists attempts at accountability and change, it also grows apart from the mainstream of U.S. society, more concerned about income disparity, unemployment, hunger, and social inequality.
On the other hand, the rise of religious fanaticism and so-called messianic faiths has been linked around the world to deterioration of social conditions, impoverishment and its consequent gearing off education-based knowledge to ‘magical’ thinking, and the literal teachings of the bible.
No wonder during the campaign to the U.S. Presidency, Republican candidates have tried to outdo each other in blaming higher education for the lack of ‘fundamental values,’ which may be roughly translated into repeating dogmas about the natural world first formulated over 2,000 years ago.
That an institution that has been waging an expensive set of wars with such a low approval and understanding from the general public has also been accused of discriminating against sex minorities, and turning a blind eye to its widespread culture of rape and violence against women, is only another expected component of such a toxic mix.
But the fact that that same public, not quite cognitive to the interplay between military spending and depletion of social programs, has been increasingly turned off by the church’s policies towards those so-called sex minorities, should be actually considered a sign of evolution. And Continue reading

Ah, Those Brazilians

Crab-Killer Waxing, Showers and the
Economy, & Fake Facebook Girlfriends

Blame it on Carnival. If you were in Brazil right now, you couldn’t possibly miss the countrywide preparations for the pagan celebration-turned-to-multi-billion dollar extravagance, which starts in a month. Since it impacts the whole country, why not its news cycle too?
It remains arguably the biggest Brazilian cultural export, and also the annual excuse for wackiness in the streets, and dreams of redemption and glory in people’s imagination. Either that or something else. Otherwise, how to explain the three themes of today’s post?
We exaggerate, of course. The expensive pre-fab debauchery now known as Carnival has little to do with what was once the cultural confluence of African slaves and their dizzying beat-driven music, and over-dressed Europeans, wishing to get lost (see: Veneza, Carnevale).
If it all sounds like a colonizer’s idealization of an ancient rite he could not understand, preserved by the official story as something the ‘natives’ used to amuse themselves, well, that’s because it sadly was. What’s left of it now is a sumptuous but ultimately kitchy visually massive parade of costumes, best experienced with an American Express expense account card.
So, what does Carnival have to do with the latest news sporting the word ‘Brazilian’ on their headlines? Not much, really, except for the general feeling that if you were in Rio at this time of the year, it’d all make sense. Since you’re apparently not, let’s hope these three stories set you up with the right mood, just in case.

THE INTIMATE ITCH
In public health arenas, the past couple of decades have seen a spate of stories about the supposed negative effects the cosmetic technique known as Brazilian Waxing may cause. Mainly risks of infection, since as it totally removes pubic hair, it can also leave the body open to all sorts of parasites and micro pests.
Allegedly. There’s also a certain resistance to the very concept of going through such an extreme procedure, just to be able to publicly flaunt Continue reading