Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All things Vampire!!

Only two days before Halloween, you can't miss the October 29th episode of WSPC Culture Wars.

Our special guest will be Leslie Klinger, the author of The New Annotated Dracula, discussing all things vampire.

Listen live or download the podcast and hear us talk about the undead, from the blood-thirsty and vicious to sexy and sensitive.

And let us know which one is your favorite by e-mailing us at

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Legalize Steroids!

Aside from our discussion of exorcisms on this week's Culture Wars, we talked about Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's comments about steroids in professional sports. This has been getting only a few lines of news copy here and there, and one of them can be read right here.

Predictably, one can read some "outraged" responses to Cuban's comments on most web sports sites. Cuban's just trying to be outrageous and controversial, most of these complaints charge.

Actually, Cuban's being way too low key and conservative in his comments. What he should be saying is that steroids should never have been made illegal in the first place!

The criminalization of steroid use will, hopefully, one day be right up there in the anals of American legal history as one of the all time stupidest laws ever, EVER passed. Right up there with the prohibition of alcohol. It belongs in those humor books listing stupid, archaic laws on the books, all the ill-conceived nonsense like the counties that make walking your aligator on a leash in public illegal. Like the FCC given the power to fine broadcasters for too much sex and violence.

In his comments, Cuban explains that limited, doctor-supervised steroid use should be tolerated as long as it can be proven that there will be no negative side effects...

Come on, Mark, you can be more daring than that! Where is the trademark Cuban bravado and willingness to court controversy?

Doctor-supervised steroid use, of course, is already legal. But what I want to pick some bones with is the statement about allowing steroid use as long as it can be proven that no negative side effects will result. The fact of the matter is that there is HARDLY ANY valid, scientific evidence that steroid use is life-threatening in any way. And I'm talking about scientifically conducted research at a university, research which is then peer-revieved and published in a scientific journal. Scientific evidence that steroids are a threat, something that will hasten your trip to the grave?? DOES NOT EXIST.

What does exist is a whole lot of locker room mythology and stories about the friend of a buddy who heard that his girlfriend's brother got some pills from a training partner that did this and that.

As far as what scant little scientific research exists, there is some evidence loss is some steroids users. Or acne! Or the tenderness in the nipple areas. Some elevated cholesterol levels or some raised blood pressure levels. Hardly the scourge of modern America.

Binging on too much chocolate can also cause acne in some. Too much bacon and greasy meat can also raise cholesterol levels. Too much salt might take up your blood pressure too! Reading anything ever published by L. Brent Bozell can take up the blood pressure of anyone with an IQ higher than the average belt size.

Stronger and clearer data about the side effects of steroids exists when it comes to female steroid use. Women who use too much steroids, like professional female bodybuilders, have shown signs of secondary male characteristics developing. Things like the deepening of the voice or the growth of excess body hair or the coarsening of the skin. But is any of this life threatening?? No! And if female athletes choose to tolerate these effects on their bodies - if they choose to defy a social construct of acceptable appearance and standards of attractiveness - is it really the role of the government to come in and start punishing them? No!!!

The history of steroids and the law is yet another infuriating case of a moral panic running amok. It's a history that goes back to the 1980s and early 90s when the brain cancer and death of football player Lyle Alzado made headlines. Before his death, an emaciated Alzado, a toothpick-thin version of his old self, declared that he believed that his long years of steroid use gave him brain cancer. This captured a lot of media attention. What did not was the fact that Alzado's own oncologists - that's cancer specialist - did not believe that there was any evidence of a link between Alzado's juicing and his cancer. But a sticky little detail like science didn't get in the way of a moral panic sweeping America and over-eager crusaders and politicians passing laws, as usual.

I would have loved hearing Cuban make a few statements like these. But he felt a little too timid that day, unfortunately.

Oh well...gotta hit the gym and pump some iron. But I really wish I could legally do something about this plateau I hit with my bench presses!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

...and speak of the Devil

This Thursday, the WSPC Culture Wars show will air one of its two great pre-Halloween programs.

Be sure and tune in - or download the podcast if you miss it - as Ernabel Demillo and I discuss real life exorcisms and the Catholic Church's views on demonic posession and the very manifastations of the Prince of Darkness himself with Saint Peter's College's Father Mark DeStephano.

And learn about the College's connection to some key players in the infamous exorcism case that inspired the William Peter Blatty book and the William Friedkin-directed movie!

The Devil made them do it!!

Here's an interesting piece from Newsweek to counter a really annoying and absurd sudden crop of sanctimonious "analysis" of the recent Heene family baloon-boy saga. "Who is to blame for this nit-wit, Richard Heene's ill-conceived hoax to get himself of TV?" some ask. Why the media and reality TV, of course, comes the response from some.

Give me a *%#&ing break!!!

Reality TV is to blame for a moronic stunt like this? As the Kate Dailey piece explains quite well, this is entirely the fault of one greedy, stupid, glory-seeking attention whore. And people like this have been around for centuries. When it wasn't reality TV, then the unscrupulous, the lazy, the morally-bankrupt could find plenty of other ways to scam and con their way into riches, into fame, into attention.

Arguments like the ones blaming reality television - and the wealth, fame, and adulation of some reality TV stars - for this idiotic stunt is like saying that a rash of college cheating and unscrupulous academic behavior should be blamed on valedictorians, on the kids on the dean's list and the honor roll. Why if we didn't lavish so much praise and attention on a select few, then everyone else wouldn't be pressured into cheating in a misguided need to get good grades.

Blaming the media for all of society's ills and a select few people's criminal, unethical, or just plain stupid behavior has turned into modern society's version of "the devil made me do it."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weirdness in Australia

You can now download the October 15 episode of Culture Wars! As always, go to and click on any of the episodes you like.

On yesterday's segment, however, we did talk about the swine flu, hoaxes by people who did not win the lottery, Rush Limbaugh and the NFL, as well as a bizarre story out of Australia.

You can check out a story about it here as well.

Australia is considering a suggested TV ban for children under 2 years old. Now the wackiest part of this is that such a drastic recommendation is made because research on how television might effect toddlers has found nothing! Yup, some studies have been done about whether or not those baby videos, things like the Baby Einstein DVDs, might actually turn babies into...Einsteins. No effect or impact on the children could be found whatsoever. Nothing good, nothing bad...nothing at all. One could just as well show political debates, car racing, or hard-core, triple X-rated pornography to a toddler and absolutely no impact would be made on that kid.

Nevertheless, some brain trust down under has now decided that babies need to be barred from the TV set.

Hmm...because no effects were found. Kind of leaves me scratching my head.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"New New Media" on Culture Wars

One of the best past guests on Culture Wars returns for the October 10 episode!

Check out Fordham professor Paul Levinson as he talks about twittering, blogging, and the reasons to love all the new new media when he discusses his latest book...New New Media.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Action Heroes and Super Heroes!!

All readers can check out the Sunday, October 4, episode of the syndicated PBS talk show, Asian America, where my Culture Wars cohost, Ernabel Demillo, will interview me and author Jeff Yang.

The program airs from 7:30 to 8:00 pm on Channel 25, in the New York tri state area. Or the entire episode can be seen after the 4th by visiting the show's web page.

Tune in and watch us discuss super heroes, action films, and what super power we would love to have!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Culture Wars on podcast!

The October 1st episode of Culture Wars is now available on podcast here!

Check out a fascinating - and somewhat disturbing - discussion of some Journal of American Medical Association statistics on med student misbehavior on social networking!