Month: August 2010

Drinkers outlive teetotalers

[A new paper] in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren’t entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does tend to increase one’s risk of dying, even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers’ mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.

Turns out I’m healthier than I thought.

Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don’t have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems.

Score one for sameness

The iconic Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta is ditching its ’60s origins to catch up to the 2010s.

That fan-shaped floor tile dating back to the hotel’s 1967 opening, gone.

The giant front desk preferred when cash payments ruled, out of here.

And that original 18,000-pound canopy over the elevators, history.

To match competitors that have spent fortunes on renovations over the past few years, the Hyatt, known for the blue dome that used to house the Polaris restaurant atop the building, is spending more than $60 million to update its look between now and 2013, said general manager Joe Hindsley.

Great, now it’ll look like every other hotel. The Regency would do better to embrace its retro quirkiness, reviving the old Polaris restaurant and nightclub under the blue dome. They’ll probably turn it into a tapas bar instead.

In defense of personal attacks

My disdain for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin is more personal than partisan. I don’t care for Keith Olbermann or Alan Grayson, either. Why should I apologize for disliking preening demagogues and opportunistic dolts?

I don’t hate conservatives or progressives — just pompous assholes and conspiratorial whack jobs. If we really want to restore America’s honor we’ll single out the blowhards and dividers, left and right. They’re nearly as toxic as any extremist ideology.

Two thumbs up for ‘Dirty Prancing’

Self-appointed culture warrior Bill O’Reilly got his start reviewing porn:

But the one that really caught our eye was a piece in which O’Reilly watches the classic porno The Devil in Miss Jones and immediately thereafter goes out for sandwiches with the film’s director, Gerard Damiano. As totally awesome as that is, it gets even better. While discussing Damiano’s involvement in the legendary skin flick, Deep Throat, O’Reilly writes this: “In an interview with Linda Lovelace last November, the performer told me that she was an afterthought for the lead in Deep Throat.”

I couldn’t think of a clever loofah reference, so feel free to contribute.

The secret of Judd Apatow’s success

Self-conscious dick jokes:

It is hard to read encomiums to Apatow without the sense that his champions are desperate to bear witness to a comic filmmaker who is both popular and worthy of their attention during an age of dreck. They strain to wring relevance out of Apatow’s pro-family message. (Who in America is against families and children?) They strain to argue for his place in a tradition. They use him as a cudgel against flawed filmmakers who are both smarter and more ambitious than he is. All the while they miss the simple moving force behind the gratuitous cameos, the accumulating in-jokes, the repeated casting of the director’s wife, children, and friends, and the constant carping about aging in Apatow’s films; they miss all the vanity. He is allowed this vanity because he delivers a message Americans crave to hear. As long as you behave yourself, take on a modicum of responsibility, and wear the yoke of commitment, it is entirely acceptable—even preferable and profitable—to be stupid.

Would Jesus fly coach?

Might as well milk this fifth anniversary thing with a Sunday-appropriate flashback, first posted on 8/28/05. For the record, Bishop Eddie Long remains a “respected” religious leader in the community.

WWJD, Part II? Buy a Bentley!

That’s what Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta did with the proceeds from a charity, aptly named for himself. Seemingly indisputable evidence lists Long as the primary recipient of the fund, obtaining at least $3.07 million during a four-year period, nearly as much as was given to those in need, according to the AJC.

With the money, Long, a rising star among black religious conservatives and pastor of a 25,000 member mega church in suburban Atlanta, purchased a $350,000 Bentley and a $1.4 million six-bedroom, nine-bath home on 20 acres of land. Of course he’s done this in part through taxpayer charity, since, as a church, New Birth Missionary Baptist is tax-exempt. The government won’t get a dime of the three million plus Long accrued.

I’m not a religious person, but I spent enough involuntary time in the Baptist church to be familiar with the Bible, in particular the teachings of Jesus. You know, that homeless guy so many Christians like to ignore (since his approach doesn’t quite jibe with the condemnation and wrath the Falwells of the world prefer).

Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?” Yep, the very same guy who instructed his followers to “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” The very one who fashioned a whip to chase merchants from the temple: “My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Somehow, Long has a different take. “I would love to sit with you and walk with you through the Bible to show that Jesus wasn’t poor,” he told an AJC reporter. Those verses can be found in the book of Pastor Delusion.

Long is not alone in preaching this warped ideology that rationalizes the unbridled pursuit of prosperity. Here in Atlanta, I know of two mega church ministers living in million dollar homes. The pastor of Atlanta’s First Baptist Church used to tool around town in a brand new Mercedes, accompanied by bodyguards. And the children of Dr. Martin Luther King, sadly, have traded on the sacred name of their father in favor of commercial dollars, selling the “I Have a Dream” speech to the highest bidder.

And of course there’s the televangelists, standing behind pulpits in crystal cathedrals and traveling to highly paid speaking gigs in private planes. You think Jesus would ever fly coach?

Beyond the perverse betrayal of their faith, these religious “leaders” are also ripping off taxpayers. The government needs to investigate, but likely won’t since this crooked cabal would likely counter with the “religious persecution” card. Their followers already seem to buy that lie, standing behind Long, according to the AJC article. And the bishop claims his congregation is inspired by seeing its pastor do well.

“I’m not going to apologize for anything …” he says.

To quote Max Van Sydow’s character in “Hannah and Her Sisters”: “If Jesus saw what people were doing in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”

Scientology gibberish

More from the Malcontent’s first week, excerpted from a Scientology newsletter intended for one of the cult’s members:

Your Progress to OT (Arbitraries Cancelled!)
“The announcement of the Golden Age of Tech marked a watershed in our application of the tech. It placed into all our org Academies the ability to train perfect auditors at the speed necessary to actually create planetary clearing for real …

Therefore, nothing is more important to us than YOU making it to OT. LRH’s researchers and discoveries resulted in making the route through the lower levels and up to OT a rocket ride. If someone has told you it takes a long time, or you feel that way even if they haven’t told you, let me indicate that is FALSE DATA.”

The Malcontent at 5

On Aug. 24, 2005, I reminisced about forgotten transgendered icon Renee Richards:

I don’t hold any special torch for the former Richard Raskind; I just think it was fascinating to live in a time when women didn’t want to play against women who used to be men — quite the controversy back when Richards joined the pro circuit. After his sexual reassignment surgery, Richards, who later become Martina Navratilova’s coach, competed successfully in several amateur tournaments en route to appearing in each of the Grand Slams. Richards was 44 when she reached the quarterfinals at the 1978 U.S. Open.

American flag golf shirts going fast

Beck said in a recent broadcast that he did not intentionally choose the “I Have a Dream” anniversary for his rally – but that he believes the coincidence is “divine providence.”

Overproduced, hackneyed patriotism, crocodile tears from Beck and lots of empty platitudes from Coach Palin should make for a heckuva weekend in D.C.

GOP honcho known to be gay comes out

Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay.

Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter’s questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.

“Arrived at this conclusion about his identity?” Sounds like Mehlman focus-grouped his sexuality.