Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "New faces of New Orleans," Aug. 15, 2009

Art of abuse

The sign next to a publicly funded art display in Glasgow, Scotland, is almost an invitation to abuse: "If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it." According to the London Times, people responded by scrawling obscenities on the Bible's pages: "This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all" and "I am Bi, Female & Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this." The Gallery of Modern Art's "Made in God's Image" display "challenges the assumption that one cannot lead a fully spiritual life" while identifying as LGBT, and solicited the involvement of the religious community, including Al-Jannah, an LGBT Muslim group. But the artists chose the Bible for defacement instead of the Quran, at the suggestion of the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination that actively promotes the LGBT lifestyle. One church minister, Jane Clark, told the Times the church never meant for people to abuse the Bible: "It was our intention to reclaim it as a sacred text."

Vicious cycle

Lance Armstrong's comeback bid to nab an eighth victory in the Tour de France fell short, as the cycling superstar finished third behind teammate Alberto Contador and runner-up Andy Schleck.

Though gracious in defeat, the seven-time champion appeared uncomfortable with his lowered place on the ceremonial podium. Adding to that discomfort, Contador and Armstrong share almost as much personal disdain for each other as they do mutual athletic respect. The pair will not continue their strained partnership as fellow members of team Astana. "We're totally incompatible," Contador said.

Armstrong, 37, insisted that he was satisfied with his third-place finish but intends to take another shot at his Spanish rival next year. Already the second-oldest rider ever to reach the podium, the aging star admits that the task ahead of him is daunting-and not just for lack of youth: "Alberto rides faster [up a mountain] than I ever did. Even at my best, I didn't ride that fast."

Pig parties

Bring cupcakes. Bring presents. Bring swine flu? Internet chatter on several health blogs and medical discussion websites indicates some concerned parents have begun toying with the idea of swine flu parties to inoculate their children from potential future strains of the virus that could prove more deadly. After much hype and fear-mongering, the current strain of the disease has proven rather mild with 302 confirmed deaths in America out of some 44,000 confirmed infections-though many analysts put the figure of unreported U.S. infections at about a million.

Future strains are not expected to be so mild. Federal health officials have expressed concern that H1N1 could infect up to 40 percent of Americans over the next two years, potentially resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths if vaccination campaigns fail. The World Health Organization says the number of global cases could balloon to 2 billion.

Still, health officials say the idea of intentional exposure to the current strain is a bad idea. Richard Jarvis, chairman of the British Medical Association's public health committee, admitted that the virus is mild but warned that its effects are not desirable: "I would not want it myself." Richard Besser, acting head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has likewise discouraged the idea given the medical community's limited knowledge of the disease.

Motherly love

Lisa Miller returns to court this month after her former lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins, filed another motion seeking a transfer of custody of Miller's 7-year-old daughter Isabella. The hearings, set for Aug. 21 in Vermont and Aug. 25 in Virginia, will also evaluate whether Miller will face sanctions for failing to send Isabella on court-mandated visits with Jenkins. The court dates come after a ruling by a Utah judge against a lesbian woman who sought parental rights over a 2-year-old boy born to her former partner. The June 30 decision upheld Jana Dickson's right as the boy's biological parent to refuse visitation to Gena Edvalson.

Dollar signs

It may have sounded significant when President Obama last week proposed ways to reduce government spending by $100 million. But with the federal budget deficit nearing $2 trillion, $100 million is less than meets the ear.

Jack Uldrich at jumpthecurve.net gives an example of the difference between 1 million, 1 billion, and 1 trillion in his futurist lectures. He asks readers and listeners to think about seconds going backwards . . .
• 1 million seconds ago = 12 days ago
• 1 billion seconds ago = 30 years ago
• 1 trillion seconds ago = 30,000 b.c.


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