Tales of a Happy Hooker

Some people are concerned that the new series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, will glamorize prostitution. So what? TV glamorizes being a cop, an ER doctor, a drunken Irish Fireman and an astronaut with his very own genii. That is TV’s function, to act as a medium for glamor and fantasy. It’s not as if the lead actress, Billie Piper, will be turning tricks in Trafalgar Square. She’s acting like a Call Girl. The only relevant question is: will the stories be engaging and interesting?

Of course, this story isn’t about prostitution. It’s about sex and while the two are related, the pearl clutching is the result of the fact that the series will be offering a positive portrayal of a prostitute, namely Belle de Jour,* whose blog and book the series is based on. If this were a documentary, narrated by some finger wagging Puritan about the horrors of prostitution, or a cautionary tale about the same, no one would raise an eyebrow. Hell, they’d show it in high school classes. But instead, it’s about a woman who enjoys sex and makes money doing it. These two ideas, one verboten (women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex) and the other a virtue (the money) just frazzles simple minds.

Combine moral ambiguity with the age old notion that TV is a simple minded affair and no wonder some of our more uptight media marms are fretting; they’re being forced to hold multiple contradictory notions in their mind at the same time and sort them out, on TV!

What is the world coming too!

Telling Stories With The Doctor

I downloaded Season 3 of Doctor Who a few weeks ago (yippee for Bittorrent!) and have watched the whole thing, so for any American fans who haven’t seen the last episode (scheduled for Friday Night here on the Sci-Fi Channel) you may want to skip this post.

Continue reading “Telling Stories With The Doctor”

The Life of a Godless Unbeliever Must be Hell

Did you know that Atheists are driving people away from science and into the loving arms of religion because we’re such meanies? Yeah, neither did I. But according to Mary Midgley, moral philosopher, that’s exactly what we are doing:

People are not going to accept scientific fact if they think it is morally pernicious. When people are asked why they are persuaded by intelligent design, they often say that it’s the only alternative to scientific atheism and Darwinism which are pernicious moral doctrines; they see it as the only refuge from this anti-human bloody-mindedness. It’s at the level of attitudes to life that these choices are made. And people will think scientists as a whole believe this.

Not that I think this is true but let us suppose, just for a moment that some people are put off of Science by us morally pernicious Atheists and our ungodly talkativeness. Why would this be?

Continue reading “The Life of a Godless Unbeliever Must be Hell”

The Endless Library

James Grimmelmann has written a paper outlining a coherent information policy for Borges’ Library of Babel.(PDF version here) He compares it’s vastness and multitudes, which contain not just all books in the universe but all possible books (including impossible and imaginary ones) to the Internet. It’s one of those rare confluences between Library wonk and lit nerd that is intriguing and fun to read. If you’re into that sort of thing.*

Link via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing.

Even Burundi Will Have Universal Healthcare Before We Do


The UK prime minister is forming a new partnership with other developed countries to make sure international aid is spent effectively.

Ministers from Burundi, Nepal, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Cambodia will take part in the launch. […] Mr Brown said: “There is no greater cause than that every man, woman and child in the world should be able to benefit from the best medicine and healthcare.

“And our vision today is that we can triumph over ancient scourges and for the first time in history, conquer polio, TB, measles, and then with further advances and initiatives, go on to address pneumoccal pneumonia, malaria and eventually, HIV/AIDS.

“Today we come together – donor governments, health agencies and developing countries – with the certainty that we have the knowledge and the power to save millions of lives through our efforts.”

Maybe after Bush and his cronies demolish the country enough for us to qualify for third-world status we’ll finally be able to get Universal Health care here.

A Future made of Steam and Rivets

Warren Ellis asks an intriguing question:

Is it possible that steampunk is making a comeback as acquiescence to the notion that our more recent apparently plausible models of the future will never come to reality?

To a large degree, I would say, yes, it is. Continue reading “A Future made of Steam and Rivets”

Still Need Proof Organized Religion Is a Scam?

Mother Theresa: Atheist:

Shortly after beginning work in Calcutta’s slums, the spirit left Mother Teresa.

“Where is my faith?” she wrote. “Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness… If there be God — please forgive me.”

Eight years later, she was still looking to reclaim her lost faith.

“Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal,” she said.

As her fame increased, her faith refused to return. Her smile, she said, was a mask.

“What do I labor for?” she asked in one letter. “If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.”

“These are letters that were kept in the archbishop’s house,” the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk told Phillips.

The letters were gathered by Rev. Kolodiejchuk, the priest who’s making the case to the Vatican for Mother Teresa’s proposed sainthood. He said her obvious spiritual torment actually helps her case.

“Now we have this new understanding, this new window into her interior life, and for me this seems to be the most heroic,” said Rev. Kolodiejchuk. [emphasis added]

Sure, she didn’t really believe in God but she’s really popular so we’re going to make her a saint anyway. Whatever it takes to fill those empty pews. How many other saints didn’t really believe but were appropriated after their death for reasons of marketing and cajoling? Probably about as many as were just invented altogether.

Mother Theresa of course deserves some of the blame. She continued to force feed the poor and sick nonsense that she didn’t even believe, just so she could watch them suffer, to try and jump start her flagging faith.

The only thing worse than sadism wrapped in piety is sadism for it’s own sake.