Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Free Speech, Religion, and a Headline I Thought I'd Never See

One thing that constantly surprises me about the US is the addiction to religion. Growing up in Britain makes you the equivalent of agnostic in the US, even if you do believe in a higher power, and I often find myself outraged by the constant evangelizing and proselytizing all around me. In the morning, on TV, there will be as many channels running Christian programming as there will be running news and weather reports. The news itself is filled with stories of religious outrage or indignation about some minor event or another. In some areas of the country, one of the first questions when you meet a new person is "which church do you belong to?". When you grow up in a country where the stock answer to this question is "The Church of Pub", it takes a little getting used to.
Two stories in the news recently (this post got lost in the mail before I could post it) have highlighted the quandary I have between proselytizing and freedom of speech. In Indiana, a mother is complaining that a school board's introduction of a school uniform has infringed her daughter's right to wear t-shirts with a Christian message to school. In Colorado, a girl who inserted an unapproved message encouraging students to convert to Christianity in her commencement speech is suing her school board for threatening to withhold her diploma until she apologized to the entire school. I'm happy for these people for whom religion really means everything, but in a country that is supposedly 80% Christian, what do you have to prove? And who are you proving it to? Taking the first article here as an example, the school board has set a uniform for all the students to wear. It's a polo shirt and khakis. Really simple. You can buy 20 variations of that uniform from Old Navy for about $100. But she wants to wear a t-shirt. Okay.
"The school is basically saying I can't wear a shirt that talks about Jesus or Christ or God or any religious type of T-shirt because we have to wear a polo," Brittany said.
No. The school is basically saying you can't wear a t-shirt AT ALL. Suck it Brittany, you spoiled little cow. Wear your martyr-shirt after school, for Chrissakes, like EVERY OTHER KID HAS TO. Brandon can't wear his Slipknot t-shirt, LaDamon can't wear his $80 Sean John t-shirt and little Madison can't wear her Hello Kitty t-shirt, either, so suck it up and move on. Sure, it would be better if there was no uniform, that you could wear what you want. My high school didn't have a uniform. Lots of others around where I grew up did. You know what, the kids that go to those schools wear it, because they have to. They don't want to, but they do. In fact, it's such a normal thing, that it hardly ever even gets discussed. They're not banning Christmas, they're not out to stop you from spreading the word of the lord, they're not darksiders. Just go to school, show up to class and STFU, already, okay?
Ahem. Anyway. Yeah. Weird country, the US, filled with individuals with a massive sense of unbridled entitlement. But thene again, you probably already knew that, right?
Finally, the headline I never thought I'd see. Coogan Could Sue Courtney. I mean, seriously. Who the hell would connect the dots between Owen "The Butterscotch Stallion" Wilson, Kurt Cobain's widow and Alan bloody Partridge?

$250,000 won't get you to Central Park West? Personally I use a $2 metrocard and the C train.

This really appeared on the Women Seeking Men section of the Craigslist Personals in New York. The ad is a classic case of someone who has spent far too much time watching Sex and the City, and wants the Manolo Blahnicks without having to work for them. The response that follows, luckily, has restored my faith in humanity once more.

What am I doing wrong?

Okay, I'm tired of beating around the bush. I'm a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I'm articulate and classy. I'm not from New York. I'm looking to get married to a guy who makes at   least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City, so I don't think I'm overreaching at all.

Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around  200 - 250. But that's where I seem to hit a roadblock. 250,000 won't get  me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married  to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she's not as pretty as  I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right? How do I  get to her level?

Here are my questions specifically:

- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars, restaurants, gyms

- What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won't hurt my feelings

- Is there an age range I should be targeting (I'm 25)?

- Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I've seen really 'plain jane' boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I've seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What's the story there?

- Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows - lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?

- How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY

Please hold your insults - I'm putting myself out there in an honest way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I'm being up front about it. I wouldn't be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn't able to match them - in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.

* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 432279810

 Dear Pers-431649184:
I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I'm not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your
bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here's how I see it.

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a  crappy business deal. Here's why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring
my money. Fine, simple. But here's the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't
be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you're 25 now and will likely stay pretty
hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold...hence the rub...marriage. It doesn't make good business sense to "buy you" (which is what you're asking) so I'd rather lease. In case
you think I'm being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It's as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as "articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful" as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to
believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn't found you, if not only for a tryout.

By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn't need to have this difficult conversation.

With all that said, I must say you're going about it the right way. Classic "pump and dump." I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know. 

Monday, October 01, 2007

Special driver's licenses to be issued to sex offenders


Tallahassee, Florida - There's a new law to help protect your kids against sex offenders.

School safety is top priority for many parents. Some schools already have security systems like the "Raptor" which can do quick visitor background checks to identify sex offenders.

But there's a new and faster way authorities hope to keep your little ones safe.

"Starting August 1st, anyone with a Florida driver's license or identification card will have a new designation on their driver's license or identification cards if they have been convicted as a sexual predator or offender," said Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Public Information Officer Ann Nucatola.

That new driver's license has a marking on the bottom right-hand corner with a special number identifying the law that particular sex offender violated.

Hmm... This is a little old now, but...

Okay here are some thoughts.

Once anyone is on that registry their life is over. You may as well shoot them as put them on that registry. If they're such a risk to society that they must be monitored like a good little Soviet for the rest of their life may as well be locked up for that time.

As a deterrant, it's useful, don't get me wrong. But not even murderers get the kind of treatment after they have served their time that sex offenders get. Those convicted in the Nuremburg trials didn't go on a registry after release (for those who were). What's worse, is that the range and breadth of that offense and subsequent monitoring is only ever going to grow.

Let's take this news story from a couple of months ago:

Family says I-4 rage led to mooning
SANFORD - A family driving west on Interstate 4 in a silver Mercedes-Benz on Sunday evening made the men in the black Chevrolet Tahoe mad.

The Mercedes had cut them off, the Tahoe's driver later told a Seminole County deputy, so front-seat passenger John Thomas Taylor dropped his pants and mooned the family, including their 14-year-old son, according to a Sheriff's Office report.


If convicted of the charge alleged by the Sheriff's Office, Taylor could face up to 15 years in prison and forever be identified as a sex offender.

So, if the first article is true, by the time the I-4 "mooner" goes to trial, if convicted, he will end up with a permanent mark on his driver's license for everyone to see. These days you need your license to travel, buy cigarettes and beer, pick up a prescription, heck here in New Park Slope you can barely use a dry cleaning service or return an unwanted gift to Ann Taylor without having to provide your license. Everyone's going have him labeled as a flasher. He won't be able to live near a school or a park with a playground, which in many places means he can't live in a town. If he has kids, he can't pick them up from school, or attend his children's graduation. And I'm using the term "his" interchangeably.

I was thinking about not posting this as I don't want to come off as defending sex offenders, as I'm not. There are a group of people out there that are vile and should go to jail, directly, without passing go or collecting diddley-squat. I just hate the registry, and wish there was some better way we could protect people rather than lumping anyone caught peeing behind a tree in the same bucket as child-molestors and having them tagged, filed and monitored like pound dogs for the rest of their lives. Kill them, lock them up until they die, or let them free, but this bizarre half-freedom we've given them doesn't help anyone, IMO.