The Price of Virginity | Catarina Migliorini

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:00 p.m. EDT, 21 November 2012

Catarina Migliorini, Photo Courtesy of El Mundo y Economia Negocios

Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. For centuries, women and men have primarily engaged in prostitution either as a means of last resort or because they were forced into it, as in the case of victims of sex trafficking.

Women living in progressive societies are acutely aware of the hard won gains that have propelled them from the bedroom to the boardroom, but they exist with the knowledge that for every advance made, there are those who would like to turn back the clock. Although afforded the legal expectation of equal treatment and pay in comparison to men, sexism remains a constant fact that is complicated by the media's dominant portrayal of women in general.

The power of the media further erodes the gains made because the entertainment industry seems predicated upon the idea of pushing the envelope when it comes to sexuality and nudity, particularly with regard to women who are often scantily clad next to appropriately clothed men. This is the mildest and subtlest form of sexual objectification, but because of the pervasiveness it barely registers as unacceptable despite its' obvious intent.

Western media routinely utilizes sexualized images of women to promote their products, though this is seen as less egregious or damaging than the objectification that exists in societies in which girls and women (and in some instances boys such as the Bacha Bazi), are treated as chattel and are routinely sold, bartered, or killed depending upon their perceived sexual value.

It is under this rubric that the idea of a contest to auction off the virginity of young women not only found serious consideration, but also purchase. Thomas Williams Productions, an Australian film company scripted a documentary titled, ‘Virgins Wanted.’ The director, Justin Sisely, sent out a casting call and finally settled on Catarina Migliorini, a 20-year old Brazilian college student to be the subject of the movie.

The premise of the documentary was fairly straight-forward, anonymous men would bid for the right to be the first person to ‘deflower’ Migliorini. According to the New York Daily News, Migliorini agreed to participate in this project to raise money to build homes for poverty-stricken families in her hometown.

When all was said and done, her virginity was valued at $790,000. According to the same article, a Japanese man named Natsu outbid on eBay, other contenders, including American bidders Jack Miller and Jack Right as well as a high-roller from India, Rudra Chatterjee for the right to have sex with Migliorini. Natsu was tested for any sexually transmitted diseases and required to use a condom. Migliorini was given $20,000 and 90% of the final auction price.

That her virginity would fetch such a noteworthy price is a stark reminder of how much work remains to secure women's rights, even in progressive societies. It is also an indictment of our values which implicitly accepts that if one pays enough money, and if it is for a good cause, then it isn't prostitution.

However, to paraphrase Shakespeare, a rose by any other name is still a rose, and prostitution is still the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment.

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A Motivational Tool for Personal Growth

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One day not too long ago the employees of a large company in St. Louis, Missouri returned from their lunch break and were greeted with a sign on the front door. The sign said: "Yesterday the person who has been hindering your growth in this company passed away. We invite you to join the funeral in the room that has been prepared in the gym."

At first everyone was sad to hear that one of their colleagues had died, but after a while they started getting curious about who this person might be.

The excitement grew as the employees arrived at the gym to pay their last respects. Everyone wondered: "Who is this person who was hindering my progress? Well, at least he's no longer here!"

One by one the employees got closer to the coffin and when they looked inside it they suddenly became speechless. They stood over the coffin, shocked and in silence, as if someone had touched the deepest part of their soul.

There was a mirror inside the coffin: everyone who looked inside it could see himself. There was also a sign next to the mirror that said: "There is only one person who is capable to set limits to your growth: it is YOU.

You are the only person who can revolutionize your life. You are the only person who can influence your happiness, your realization and your success. You are the only person who can help yourself.

Your life does not change when your boss changes, when your friends change, when your parents change, when your partner changes, when your company changes. Your life changes when YOU change, when you go beyond your limiting beliefs, when you realize that you are the only one responsible for your life.  "The most important relationship you can have, is the one you have with yourself."

 

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Pop Quiz

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1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five World Cup champions.

3. Name fifteen famous historical figures.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

5. Name five Academy Award winners for Best Actor and Actress from the 1950's.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They're the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Now here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. Name three teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier?

The lesson?

The people who make a difference in your life aren't the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They're the ones who care.

Editor-in-Chief: @AyannaNahmias
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Man Eaten by Pigs in Midst of Pork Shortage

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:11 PM EDT, 2 October 2012

Mackey Photography, Hog, Photo by Tanya JoCOQUILLE, Oregon – Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, Jews, and Muslims do not eat pork because it is forbidden by religious statute.

So, the recent discussions and angst expressed by some in the American media about the pork shortage, has left many people of the aforementioned faiths nonplussed.

For some, the thought of eating pork evokes a visceral aversion based upon the evidence that pigs and hogs will eat anything, including their own feces.

Some may ask, what is the difference between a pig, a hog, and a swine?

Not much, since both are swine, but pigs weigh less than 120 lbs (50 kg), while hogs weigh in excess of this amount, and are generally older and possess ferocious appetites. Neither are as aggressive as wild hogs, also known as boars, but given the right circumstances they can and have bitten humans.

Thus, the sad tale of Terry Vance Garner, 69, begins and ends with pigs. First, our condolences go out to the family of this hardworking farmer who seemed to earn a living doing honest if unpleasant work so that other people could enjoy non-agro farmed pork.

This post is less about the death of the farmer than it is about the wisdom of consuming an animal with such an indiscriminate palate.

Apparently, last Wednesday, 26 September 2012, Mr. Garner went out to feed his hogs but never returned according to his family. Because of his age, some believed that he may have suffered a medical emergency and was unable to get back to the house.

When family members went out to look for him in and around the area he was last headed, after several hours of searching, they discovered to their horror, Garner's dentures and pieces of his body in the hog enclosure. The remaining parts of his body were not located which led to the conclusion that it had been completely eaten by the hogs.

On Monday, Paul Frasier, District Attorney of Coos County, in which the town of Coquille is situated, released a preliminary statement indicating that Mr. Garner had been eaten by his hogs, some of them weighing in excess of 700 lbs (318 kg). Although, it appears to be an accidental death, an investigation has been launched to rule out foul play because the manner of Garner's death was so unusual.

However, authorities are also pursuing a line of inquiry that suggests that he suffered a debilitating health emergency and died in the enclosure, at which point the hogs consumed him.

Food for thought……

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Facebook Post Sparks Attack on Buddhists

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 03:53 AM EDT, 1 October 2012

Buddhist Monk Standing Before Buddha, Photo by Ruro PhotographyCOX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh - In March 2001 the Taliban destroyed two ancient statues of the Buddha called Bamiyan in an attempt to cleanse the country of Afghanistan of what they perceived as Hindu heresy.

Today, nearly 12 years later, Buddhist temples and homes are once again under attack ostensibly to revenge an insult of Islam. At least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes of Buddhists were destroyed by an angry mob of approximately a hundred Muslims.

The Cox's Bazar area is in the southeast of Bangladesh, and has historically been a model of successful, peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Buddhists. This coexistence has been assiduously maintained despite efforts to foment dissension by agitators.

Similar to the recent violence that swept across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia in response to a video which depicted the Prophet Mohammed in blasphemous terms; the riots in Cox’s Bazar were instigated by Muslim protesters because they were outraged by a photo of a burned Qur’an which was posted on Facebook.

The photo was posted on the Facebook page of a young Buddhist boy who claimed that he wasn’t responsible for the inflammatory picture. The ability of others to post photos on user pages is fairly simple. Adept users can easily circumvent privacy settings by tagging a photo with a person's name which then automatically posts the image to the unsuspecting user's page.

The boy and his mother are currently under police protection, and in response to the violence the police have increased security presence in the area to prevent further protests from erupting.

"We brought the situation under control before dawn and imposed restrictions on public gatherings," said Salim Mohammad Jahangir, district police superintendent for Cox's Bazar.

Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir described the attacks on temples as a "premeditated and deliberate attempt" to disrupt harmony. (Source: AP)

Bangladesh’s is a Muslim dominated city of 150 million people of which Buddhists comprise less than 1 percent. According to witnesses, this small population refused to be intimidated by recent events, and over 100 Buddhists staged a silent protest of the attacks in the capital Dhaka on Sunday afternoon.

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New York, New York Fisticuffs

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 12:16 PM EDT, 28 September 2012

Empire State Building, New York, Photo by Rebecca WilsonNYC, New York - As human beings have progressed from hunter gathers, to agrarian, to industrialized societies dominated by technology, we have become increasingly tamed through societal norms enforced by political correctness.

Today, men and women effortlessly obliterate the livelihood of others, often plunging them into difficult situations which sometimes leads to suicide.

But, these anonymous transgressions accomplished through machinations such as manipulating financial markets, enable the victimizer to emerge physically unharmed.

There are still those who operate in the netherworld of criminal enterprise, who get down and dirty by causing their victim's pain and death, but within the rarefied world of corporations and government, this type of physical violence is infrequently exhibited.

Yet, some could argue that the ruthlessness that men employ to decimate their opponents in trying to close the deal, secure the corner office, achieve more prestige, garner more money, or simply in pursuit of female companionship, is just as aggressive but usually accomplished through calculated effort.

This is why the video showing two men dressed in business casual, battling it out in Manhattan over a cab ride, is noteworthy.

It is worth watching once, if not twice, to see these men engaged in fisticuffs over who would get to ride in the cab during a time of day when unoccupied cabs are difficult to find. All that is missing in this atavistic encounter are animal skins and wooden clubs.

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Google Launches Driving 'With Folded Hands'

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 14:26 PM EDT, 27 September 2012

Astounding Science Fiction Magazine, July 1947MOUNTAIN VIEW, California - Google continues to be on the bleeding edge of technology which is reflected in the public’s increased demand for its innovative solutions, and its stock which is currently trading at $754.80 per share.

Google, like Star Trek which presented revolutionary technology in television and film, i.e. the Tricorder which approximates cell phones developed decades later, is shaping the future.

Now, Google has developed a self-driving Toyota Prius that is reminiscent of the cartoon series ‘The Jetsons,’ minus levitation.

However, levitation may not be far behind as Google continues to push the envelope by developing technology that will reduce human error. On Tuesday, 25 September 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown test drove or rather rode to Google headquarters in a self-driving Toyota Prius.

Following this momentous experience, he signed legislation that will pave the way for driverless cars in California. “The bill by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla will establish safety and performance regulations to test and operate autonomous vehicles on state roads and highways” (Source: AP)

Yet, this incredible news should be tempered with caution as it harkens back to a short story written in 1947 by Jack Williamson.

In his tale, main character, Mr. Sledge, invents ‘The Humanoids,’ to make man’s life easier, to help humanity, and to be invulnerable to human exploitation. However, he eventually realized that they had instead taken control of humanity, in the name of their Prime Directive, to make human’s happy.’ (Read Full Story Summary Here)

Though it is not a one-to-one comparison, it is evidence of human beings' increased reliance on technology which sometimes has good and bad effects. The Internet is a prime example of a tool of unimaginable power to provide information on anything one would ever want to know, but it is also misused by unscrupulous individuals for nefarious intents.

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Published: 27 September 2012 (Page 2 of 2)

Within the context of the story referenced above, Sledge is similar to Google co-founder Sergey Brin who also believes that "self-driving cars can really dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone."

When asked during an interview with NPR about the expected mass production of this technology and any partnerships with specific automobile manufacturers, Brin predicted that autonomous vehicles will be commercially available within a decade.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers expressed concern that California is moving too quickly to embrace self-driving cars, but this push back is likely based on market share and competition since many automobile manufacturers have also been developing self-driving vehicle technology.

In fact, 'car makers such as Audi AG, BMW AG, Ford Motor Co. and Volvo have been working on autonomous car technology for years. In most new cars varying degrees of autonomous function exists, such as self-parking, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise-control, which allows vehicles to automatically accelerate and decelerate with the flow of traffic.' (Source: AP)

But Google is the only company to develop the driverless car technology and move this from concept to implementation. The company's fleet of a dozen computer-controlled vehicles has logged more than 300,000 miles of self-driving without an accident, according to Google.

It is an exciting development, but Californians shouldn't throw away their car keys just yet. Next steps in moving this closer to consumer use is for the CA Department of Motor Vehicles to weigh in and draft regulations on how this could be integrated into the current licensing process flow.

The DMV has until 1 January 2015 to draft the legislation, but it is a certainty that despite the ability to operate autonomously, a licensed and insured driver will still need to accompany the car in case of malfunction or other emergency which would require human intervention.

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