Thursday, August 28, 2008

Can it be? Yes it can!

You may count me among the jillions of bloggers who saw Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech tonight and had their eyes glaze over, but not from the usual ennui which occurs while watching candidates for public office speak on TV. No, this time it was a magnificent case of not believing what I’m seeing.

African-Americans have held federal office since the late 19th century. But the idea of one getting this close to the presidency, and actually having a fair shot at it has, to say the least, blown this observer’s mind. When I was a kid (a very considerable period of time after the late 19th century), my country was only beginning to get that African-Americans were human beings and ought to be treated like them. Whatever you might think of Senator Obama’s politics, there’s no denying the trail blazed by those who came before and the barriers he himself has crashed through. Racial politics in America will never be the same.

For the record, I intend to vote for Senator Obama. I know better than to think he or any candidate is a knight in shining armor. But I definitely expect better from him than from his rival, Senator John McCain, who, far from being the second coming of George W. Bush is actually far more dangerous. When Ronald Reagan made his infamous “bombing in five minutes” wisecrack in 1984, it was meant as a private joke. He didn’t know he was being recorded. When Senator McCain nonchalantly made light of the idea of attacking Iran by parodying a Beach Boys tune, he did it in front of a roomful of supporters and reporters.

Senator Obama’s got charisma. He’s got class. He’s articulate, smart and as he’s proven by his rise to Democratic presidential nominee, he knows how to get things done. And if he’s elected president, as I hope he is, he will have made history twice.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Great Moments in Advertising (first in a series)

What’s with the third leg?

When this ad for Dingo boots ran, the football superstar who was then known simply as “The Juice” had been traded by the now-defunct American Football League from the Buffalo Bills to the San Francisco 49ers. It would be another 16 years before a pair of more conservative shoes that he wore on a certain evening would become evidence in the murder trial which eclipsed the impeachment of then-president Bill Clinton.

Long, long ago, in a head shop far, far away...

Back in the 1970's, when everyone from President Ford’s son on down “inhaled”, in the Bill Clinton sense of the word, people who couldn’t quite get the hang of rolling their own, who needed to roll lots of product for a party or who just wanted a little more convenience in the whole process bought a cigarette roller, quite possibly like the one pictured here.

The mascot in this ad looks suspiciously like a certain character from the motion picture, Star Wars (now titled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which came out only a year earlier. Personally, I can’t think of why a protocol robot would need a rolling machine when it’s no doubt been programmed to roll 100 perfect sticks of Tattooine Purple in less time than it takes to power up a lightsaber.

Impress women with your knowledge of impedance!

This advertisement appeared not in a technical journal or audio-hobbyist magazine, but the September, 1978 issue of Penthouse magazine.

Howard W. Sams has been printing technical reference materials for the electronics industry since 1946. They have a well-deserved reputation among technicians and engineers for excellence in that field. But selling a specialized technical manual to the readership of what is politely called a “men’s magazine”? I don’t know about that.

I’ve skimmed the Audio Cyclopedia while sitting in the waiting room at an NPR station. Now out of print, it was a great textbook for anyone who wanted to seriously study the principles of analogue audio. It was an excellent reference guide for anyone who worked in a recording studio, a motion-picture studio, a broadcast facility or an audio or video archive. For anyone else, it was probably too technical and too expensive.

Click any image to enlarge.

The preceding advertisements appeared in Penthouse magazine, September 1978.

Friday, August 15, 2008

This joke isn't funny.

We’ve all gotten junk e-mails from time to time. Most of them are annoying. Some of them are mildly amusing. Still others are dangerous, like the ones claiming to be from your bank and credit card companies but which are really sent to you by identity thieves (“phishing”). Or the ones which promote hysteria. One such e-mail is currently making the rounds:

Subject: Minister With Aids

To those of you who are single or married, saved or not saved, this is for you. I am a 35-year-old African American or Black brother dying of Aids. I would like to share my testimony with you.

I am an owner of a Mortgage Company in Atlanta , GA. I own a 2007 Jaguar and I also own a $350,000 beautiful home in Cobb County .

I have a beautiful Lady who is deeply in love with me and a loving family. But most important, I have Jesus, this is just a wake up call to all single brothers and sisters who are professing to be Christians, but don't want to be complete.

Brothers, I had a beautiful young lady who loves the Lord and worships the ground I walk on. But I still wasn't quite happy because sometimes I would see another sister with a Coca-Cola bottle shape and just wanted to hit it. Because I was using a condom, I thought that I wouldn't catch the killer 'AIDS' but guess what? I did..

And the person I caught it from was a girl that I knew well.

But the condom came off and now I am dying of AIDS. Yes, I wore a condom. But yes it did happen.

God gives us time after time to straighten our lives up. I do know the Lord in the pardon of my sins. I've been saved now for 7 years.

I found out 7 months ago that I had the virus, and now I have full-blown Aids. I really didn't think that I was doing anything wrong, because I would tell the women who I would deal with about the woman I love. I thought that was good enough. But it wasn't.

I am a good man and also a God-fearing man; but my weakness was women... I really wasn't out there like you may think I was, but every once and a while I would see something I wanted to try. My girlfriend is a praying woman. I know now that she was intimate with me because she loved me and she wanted to make me happy.

Now I've given AIDS to the woman I love (who has been faithful to me) because of lust.

Brothers and sisters, what I am telling you is that God is tired of us hurting each other and using each other for self-gratification.

God has given me my home, my dream car and a beautiful woman and I took it all for granted. I've been tithing for 7 years. I am the chairman of my Deacon Board. But when I told my Pastor I had AIDS, he could not believe it because of the way I would carry myself.

Brothers, if you have a sister who loves the Lord and who loves you for who you are and not for what you look like and not for what you have, cherish her.

Sisters. If you have a brother who loves the Lord, love him and cherish him.

My life has been altered. I've been with my lady since I was 20, and I've always used my young age as an excuse for not being loyal and not settling down with the woman I loved. I was being a hypocrite thinking that I was missing something, and not realizing that I had a good woman who loved and adored me.

I wish I had been a real man and had appreciated the good woman God had sent me by not making excuses and dedicating my life to her. I would love to travel and marry this beautiful young Lady, but now I can't.

I've embarrassed my family, my church and my friends. But I was hardheaded and now I must suffer.

God is cleaning up. Stop playing with God. God is revealing the secrets of us Christians. Brothers and sisters, we don't have to have so many 'friends,' you know what we call them. The ones we are planning to sleep with but haven't yet.' We often say that we don't want anyone to know our business, but God is about to reveal something. Especially to us young people.

We think so carnal. But we say that we have been transformed. We have been transformed from what we want to be transformed from. Let's be real. God knows that the opposite sex attracts us. And he knows the desires we have for each other, but we don't have to have multiple partners.

If I could do it all over again, I would marry the woman I love and live happy forever. But now I can't! But you can!

Singles...I gotta tell you, it's not worth it. I love you all!

Get rid of casual sex.

This is really deep. After you've read this, think about yourself. Could this have been you? Some of you may not relate, but think about anything you are doing right now that is not of God.

We are living in the last and final days, and pretending to be saved is not going to cut it. Professing that He is Lord, and yet worshiping the devil every chance you get will lead you to the same path as me. Get your mind out of the gutter and put it in the Word of God and you'll have great success. Don't and you'll have great woe.

I love the LORD and thank Him for all that He does in my life; therefore, I'm passing this on. Yes, I do love Jesus who has forgiven me of the repeated sins. That forgiveness does not cancel out the consequences, at least not so far. But that's on me. Still, the Lord is my source of existence and Savior. He keeps me functioning each day and is letting me share my story with you.

I'm telling it like it is. THIS REALLY is to help somebody. Without Him, I will be nothing. Without Him, I am nothing but with Him I can do all things. Phil 4:13

If you love Jesus, send this to lots of people!!!!!! Be Positive - Be Progressive...Take the time to make a positive difference in someone's life.

Minister Anthony J. Cox

God Bless

And I thought that Reverend Jimmy Swaggart was pitiful. This inflammatory screed apparently hasn’t hit yet, but I suspect that it won’t be long.

First, these chain letters (messages which you’re expected to forward to all your friends and relatives) are spam. They’re written and circulated by people with far too much time on their hands and nothing constructive to do with it.

Second, while unprotected sex is certainly inadvisable in this day and age, the idea of a man catching HIV - zap! - the very second his condom fails is ludicrous. I know of at least two instances where a married man whose wife caught AIDS from a blood transfusion stayed uninfected even though they continued to have unprotected sex until the wife was diagnosed long after the fact. One was Paul Michael Glaser who played Detective David Starsky in the 1970's action/comedy TV program “Starsky & Hutch”. His wife Elizabeth, who died from AIDS in 1994, was diagnosed with HIV ten years earlier, about 3 years after his daughter Ariel was born (she was also HIV-positive and died from AIDS in 1988). The other was a man named “Pete”, a friend of National Public Radio film reviewer Bob Mondello. As with Elizabeth Glaser, Pete’s wife became pregnant before she was diagnosed. Pete’s wife and child died of AIDS, Pete remained uninfected.

This is not to advocate unprotected sex, or to minimize these peoples' terrible losses, but hopefully you see my point.

Third, there are treatments for HIV and AIDS now which didn’t exist when Pete’s wife and Elizabeth Glaser became infected. While a cure still hasn’t been found, we’ve come a very long way from the days of AZT and hopeless despair.

Lastly, let's all stop demonizing "casual sex" (read: sexual relations between reasonably intelligent but unmarried adults). Ignorance and carelessness. are what spreads HIV, not "casual sex". By the way, the one part of America with the greatest number of new AIDS cases is the deep south, the most moralistic, socially-conservative part of America. What does that tell us?

HIV/AIDS is a serious matter. Let’s treat it like one, and not make a moralistic anti-sex crusade or a stupid practical joke out of it. For solid facts on this pestilence that has been in our face for far too long, check out:

The Body - Lots of information, some of it a bit technical, but factual and without moralization. - As the name suggests, it's geared toward high school and college-age people, but still has plenty of useful information for people of all ages.
National Public Radio hosted a call-in program about AIDS on August 5th. They've also got a blog to accompany the on-air discussion.