Monday, June 20, 2011

Ballsy Move, NBC. I Like It.

     Apparently, the Constitution is not so much the law as it is a suggestion.  I don't know how else to explain why Americans have been wiping their asses with the First Amendment for so long.  An article on Yahoo! describes the negative feedback from NBC's decision to edit the phrase "under God" from a recording of the Pledge of Allegiance aired during the US Open.  Or some golf tournament...  Anyway, I got your back, NBC..

      From at least the 16th century, North African Muslim nations routinely engaged in piracy in the Mediterranean, attacking European ships and coastal towns and enslaving prisoners.  England's growing naval power led to treaties with the Barbary States that protected them and their colonies from piracy.  After the American Revolution, the United States was no longer protected by those treaties.  After a war or two, the young United States signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, securing peace for American shipping.  Article 11 of the treaty states: As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of [Islam],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

     There is debate as to what exactly the Founding Fathers meant when the First Amendment was written (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof).  Interpretations range from the belief that the clause prohibits any acknowledgement of religion in government affairs to the belief that it merely prevents the establishment of a state church.

     I recognize that the language of the First Amendment doesn't explicitly state that the United States should not recognize God, Buddha, Thor, etc.  But the Treaty of Tripoli sure as hell does.  America is not, "in any sense", founded on Christianity.  Some religious nuts will point out that that clause wasn't in the Arabic version of the treaty sent to the Barbary States, but it was the English version that was read and ratified by the Senate.  I doubt very many of them could read Arabic.  When it was signed by President John Adams, he even added this statement: Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

When presented to the Senate, it was ratified unanimously and was recorded as having been so.  Of the 339 other unanimous votes by this time, only two others were recorded.  Clearly, the Founding Fathers felt that secularism was crucial to proper government.  The treaty was then printed in Philadelphia and New York newspapers, apparently with no public disapproval.  Despite this, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll in 2006 that found that 67% of Americans consider the U.S. a Christian nation.  And who can blame them?  Even our secretly Muslim President seems to mention God every time he makes a speech.

     So back to the Pledge.  Did you know it was written by a Christian Socialist?!  More importantly, Francis Bellamy's original version, written in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage, did not contain the phrase "under God" at all.  The original version read as follows: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"Under God" was not added until 1954, during one of America's most conservative and reactionary decades.  I have to end this post.  The irony is too much.

Bravo, NBC.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cell Phones May Cause Cancer; Not Having One Linked to Friendlessness

     For years, notable organizations and individuals have conducted research into the possible link between cell phone use and brain cancer.  Most have concluded that more information is needed before making a definitive statement on the long-term effects of using a cell phone.  However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization), stated on May 31 that radiation from cell phones is "possibly carcinogenic to humans".  The Agency placed cell phone radiation in the same group as other possible carcinogens, such as coffee and car exhaust. 
     It seems most people aren't bothered by the news.  Some use the same excuse as smokers: "I've been using a cell phone for so long, I'm already fucked."  Everyone else just figures the cancer is better than not having a cell phone.  Besides, they say, most experts agree that any possible link between cell phones and cancer would be very weak, given the low amounts of radiation given off by phones.
     For humanity's sake, I hope they are wrong.  Cancer-causing phones are exactly the motivation scientists need to finally find a cure.  Think how hard scientists would work to find a cure, how much money the rich would donate to research if they knew they and their loved ones were going to develop brain cancer.  Why do you think AIDS still hasn't been cured?  Infect everyone in the WHO with HIV and see how quickly they find a cure.
     Or, better yet, we could infect only world leaders.  Think about it; FDR was president from 1933 to 1945 and quickly became the world's most famous polio survivors.  Ten years after his last term ends, the first polio vaccine is announced.  Coincidence?  What's more, FDR's symptoms more closely fit with Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome!  Just the thought that the President had polio got the job done.  Granted, a vaccine isn't actually a cure, but it's better than nothing.  
     Political leaders always claim to have the well-being of the people in mind when they make the decisions that govern our lives.  What better way to prove it than by willingly being infected with a major illness so that a cure can be found?  At worst, no new cures will be found, but at least we can be sure that our leaders really are the sort of people that put the needs of the people before their own wants.  Or maybe people will vote according to what disease they'd like to see cured; that way, presidencies would have positive, tangible results.