Archives For May 2004

[ Note: TGIF is the name of a column that has appeared in a variety of Trinidadian newspapers, today was to be the last appearance of the column in it`s current incarnation at the Trinidad Guardian but was not published. I have reproduced the email i received here in it`s entirety for you reading pleasure.]


This is the column that should have appeared in the Guardian today. The paper refused to publish it. Please do send it along to anyone you know who might be a reader of Thank God It`s Friday, with my apologies and the assurance that, if it were up to me, Guardian readers of Thank God It`s Friday would never have had the column disappear without at least a goodbye.

take care


THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY for 28 May 2004

Headline: Goodbye Guardian

THIS IS THE last column I shall be writing for the Trinidad Guardian. My editor sent me an email on Monday saying “We have been doing a review of our content and…. have decided to bring your column Thank God It`s Friday to an end, effective 28th May, 2004.”

It may be a Freudian slip, of course, but the Guardian can’t actually bring my column to an end; it can only bring its own publication of same to an end. However, I imagine there are indeed many people, not just my present/erstwhile editors, who would like to bring Thank God It’s Friday (or its author) to an end; and I can even understand them. I’ve always understood just what a pain in the ass I am to many truly important people. The more millions in your bank account, the more contemptuous you are likely to be of these thousand words. The higher up the management/social ladder you climb, the greater the likelihood you look down on me. And some Trinidadians just don’t “ketch”. So, yes, there may be quite a few who would celebrate the departure from these (or any) pages of Thank God It’s Friday.

My fond — perhaps foolish — hope is, there are many more who would like it to continue. From the response I’ve had over the last 16 years the column has appeared, I reckon the ratio to be about 20-to-one in my favour. My problem has always been that the one in the 20 usually sits in a boardroom while the other 19 sit at bars, in the back of the bus, or under a coconut tree at the beach.

When I return to Trinidad permanently eight days from now, I will be able to say whether the column will go elsewhere. It may be that there may be only a very short or no break at all in its appearance in a newspaper on a Friday; which would please me, since a substantial part of my local readership is not online.

Until that is sorted, though, TGIF will appear on the internet at, where The Pires Zone, a collection of these columns, is hosted. It will also appear online, at least temporarily, at, since I happen to be sleeping with the proprietor of that website. (She’s my wife, and the publisher of Cré Olé magazine, the Guide to Dining & Nightlife in Trinidad & Tobago, and an internet site worth visiting in itself, especially if you have a few bucks to blow on lunch or dinner – look at that: my last free plug of a worthwhile venture in the Guardian – unless, of course, I can find some clever way of working in the new jointpop or Orange Sky album, Battimamzelle, Irie Bites, the Pelican, Don’s rumshop at Crystal Stream or 51 Degrees; I know I can also happily recommend Abel clay blocks and tiles, which might help.) Seriously, though, TGIF will also appear on from next Friday until further notice; and I hope it doesn’t put you off your food.

(Look at that: nearly a whole paragraph in brackets. One day, this entire column will appear in parentheses; just like my professional life. Haha. Little self-denigrating humour there. Always a good idea to take a potshot at yuhelf now and again. Keep the knucks een for the real targets.)

So, once more, as I have done at least three times before – including once in this very space – I have to come up with some potentially famous last words, a particularly difficult ask when all their two million predecessors have rather tended towards infamy. And, too besides, as they say in Parliament, this time may well be the last, in truth.

What I could tell you?

If you never read me in Trinidad newspapers again, please remember that, even though I labour against the dehumanizing effects of religious doctrine, I endorse all aspects of religion God would approve of, like hymns and bhajans and Carnival. I don’t buy that God will be pleased if you fly a plane into a tall building or irate if you don’t eat fish on a Friday. And I especially don’t buy that God thinks the sex he himself created is so sacred (or so sinful), he must chinks it out through dubiously licensed or franchised ministers of religion. If that were so, there would be monkey, donkey and pothound priests; and amoebae would have devised ordination before binary fission.

Beyond that, only two things more.

One, all children are precious, not just those of the rich.

And, two.

The only point of living is to be truly useful, in some way, to your community, the community of living things. Bill Gates makes himself useful by aiming to put a computer on every desk. (Of course, he crashes several million times a day.) Greenpeace saves the dolphins. Monsanto meddles with genes to help the rapeseed. Bunji Galin makes us jump, wave and think.

This job of writing for you is the best I could imagine. I would do it for free. I would pay to do it (indeed, have already paid heavily). But I could only ever approach it with the respect befitting my Father’s work, and demand it be well-paid and well-treated. Or it would mean nothing to you; and would be torture for me. I leave you, temporarily, I hope, with the words of Janis Joplin, who died drunk, broke and lonely in the Seventies, but gave us all the definitive white-girl cover of “Summertime” and this timely, timeless advice: “Don’t compromise yourself; you’re all you’ve got”.

BC Pires is! You can email your please stays or firetruck offs to him at

we had house guests over last night. we played dirty scrabble and Scattegories. it`s a nice feeling being `normal`, doing things together, having people over, laughing hysterically at the way our brains work.

vic and i joke about sharing a brain regularly, but last night during Scategories, our brilliant idea for something you`re allergic to beginning with the letter `O`; otters. our guests looked at us stunned. there were bonus points during Scattegories too for answers that were immoral to say the least, but we were all adults.

in other news, George W. is mere minutes away from me today, he`s making a money run at Vanderbilt, so i have the joy of being inconvenienced and diverted for at least five hours today. oh dear i promised i would be nice.

a historical timeline for censorship and down near the end are some interesting dates:

1995 – United States Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa proposed the Protection of Children from Pornography Act. The law was eventually placed with the Telecommunications Act.

1996 – The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed. The new law discussed issues of obscene material over the internet.

26 June 1997 – The United States Supreme Court voted unanimously that the Telecommunications Act was in violation of the first amendment.

1997 – The White House stated that, “Advanced blocking and filtering technology* is doing a far more effective job of shielding children from inappropriate material than could any law.”

20 April 2001 – The Children`s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) went into effect. The law requires all schools and libraries who receive federal funds for the Internet to install blocking software.

May 2002 – The American Library Association received a ruling that CIPA is unconstitutional. They appealed the decision, making the case go to the Supreme Court.

March 2003 – Arguments for the CIPA case began in the Supreme Court.

February 9, 2004 The United States Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

But that isn`t the end: “When the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), the ruling was limited to issues of whether the statute, as written, was an unconstitutional limitation of freedom of speech. In holding that the wording of the law did not present an unconstitutional limitation on the exercise of free speech, the Supreme Court did not address the constitutionality of the application of the law. Two of the Justices who concurred that CIPA was legal on its face, in fact, suggested the possibility of future legal challenges to CIPA as it is applied in public libraries. This paper discusses potential problems related to the implementation of CIPA that could affect the exercise of free speech in public libraries. It also suggests possible legal challenges to the application of the law that could be made using established First Amendment jurisprudence. The legal issues that might be used to challenge the Court’s decision include least restrictive alternative, vagueness, overbreadth, request policies, prior restraints, public forum, and limitations on political speech. The discussion of each legal issue offers an approach that could be taken in formulating and raising a legal challenge to the application of CIPA.”

this opens the CIPA to be challenged on other grounds.

*the problem with the filters however is that they tend to be flawed, blocking information that is pertinent and useful as well as inappropriate:

Given the tremendous amount of material on the Internet that must be reviewed, it is inevitable that a few mistakes will be made and otherwise useful material blocked.  Groups critical of Internet filters have found that the following sites have been blocked:

• Amnesty International

• American Family Association

• Banned Books On-line

• The Religious Society of Friends

• The Safer Sex Page

• The Web site of Rep. Dick Armey

• Dozens of Web sites of candidates in the last election

• Child Online Protection Act commissioners’ pages that had the word “cum” (as in “magna-cum-laude”) in the bio

• Information on China’’s response to the spread of AIDS

• National Association of Women

• People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

• The American Association of University Women Maryland.

A useful report concerning Internet filters is the “Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Faulty Filters: How Content Filters Block Access to Kid-Friendly Information on the Internet”

Peacefire recently conducted a review of the sites one Internet filter, SurfWatch, blocked of the first 1,000 working .coms. According to Peacefire, out of 1,000 sites tested, 147 were blocked. Of those 147 blocked sites, 96 sites were under construction and did not have content, 42 were non-pornographic and did not have sexually explicit content and nine were pornographic.  According to Peacefire, this constitutes an error rate of 82 percent. A search of the Surfwatch (now SurfControl) Web site revealed press releases acknowledging – but not refuting – the Peacefire study.

today`s post brought to you by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation

i think it`s my responsibility to police my children`s viewing, reading, gaming, playing habits. when i give up that responsibility to an outside source i can`t say anything when the books i`d like my children to read aren`t in the library or if we own the books my children can`t discuss them without fear of persecution or prosecution.

if i have one problem with the US, it is the lack of personal responsibility. it is the one thing i haven`t been able to adjust to. people don`t want to be held accountable for anything but are willing to pass the blame and file suit.

you`re overweight, you sue the fast food restaurant. you injure yourself leaping from a moving bus, you sue the transportation authority. when did the value of litigation as opposed to plain good sense become the rule of the day? i think the ability to get lawyers to take these cases and judges to hear them is immoral.

what also worries me is my inability to do anything about legislation and decisions being made on a governmental level. i`m not a citizen, i have no voting rights and the way things are going, disagreeing with the government may cause my status here to be reviewed. is it because i haven`t lived under the bill of rights all my life that i don`t take it for granted? everyday the state becomes more Orwellian as individuals give up their personal responsibility to themselves and their children and let someone else manage their lives, what they should know, what their children should see. it always seems simple at first, it`s always the little things for the `greater good` and when you finally do realise that you`re living in a prison of your own construction, it`s too late.

there are a couple things i`ve been reading that i`d like to share:

I Know It When I See It, an article trying to define the differences between porn and erotica.


Disney’s In Indecency Mix

has anyone noticed the connection between morality and pornography, well aside from the obvious. i mean every time there is a marked upswing by people wishing to enforce a particular brand of morals, there is a major jump in the pornographic industry?

the Victorian era, one of the most prolific in terms of erotica. The 80s saw the rise of the Meese Commission, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Baker, Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Graham as well as the high points in terms of both popularity and profit, of Penthouse and Hustler.

here we are again a new generation and new campaigns to enforce a particular brand of morals and what do we have to go along with it? Mainstream of the porn industry. why? because sexuality is a natural part of the human experience. we are one of only two species that have sex for fun.

the more they you try to repress it, the more avenues it`s going to come pouring out. do you think that fact that sex is used to sell everything is accidental? no, the point of advertising to make us desire, to seek things that we don`t have.

i want to raise my point again about the level of hypocrisy about the Superbowl furore, how can you, in a televised event featuring advertisements for tablets for male enhancement and alcohol featuring half naked women honestly object to the presence of a naked breast.

and therein lies the problem with morality, it`s convenient and hypocritical.

i would love my children to abstain from sex until they`re married at 35, but i honestly know that`s not going to happen, so i`m going to give them as much information as i can to help them make the right decisions. i can`t live their lives for them and as much as i`d like to, i can`t protect them from everything but i can certainly try and i think the best form of protection i can give them is information.

abstinence education is not working.

“Three-quarters of newly reported STI cases are in those under 25 years of age. Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and human papilloma virus are being spread at shocking rates, again, mainly among the young…”

we need to educate our children, quickly and correctly because this current wave of pseudo-morality is most certainly not the answer.

today`s post brought to you by:

Heather Corinna Photography

Boucher`s The Rape of Europa

Rape and nakedness, I`m going to hell, you can read the sordid tale here.

according to The Art of War it is best to know your enemy and i`ve taken to reading the journal everyday, to keep abreast [oooh, i said breast too, fire and brimstone] of the situation. apparently he`s been getting a lot of hate mail. it`s strange, they mention all the hate and abusive mail they`ve gotten but there is no mention of my careful though out and worded treatise, which you can read here. i`m not surprised, this is how ignorance works, it feeds on itself.

don`t send angry messages, it doesn`t help, it just fuels witch hunts like this. information and logic are the best measures. this particular brand of ignorance has websites like scarleteen blocked by net nanny and the like because they approach the idea of teenagers and sexuality in an open manner.

i`m not invalidating that argument that there are things on JS unsuitable for minors, but JS should be least of the worries of any parent. if the minor is intelligent and precocious enough to get online, i doubt very much they`re going to be heading here to look for inappropriate materials. and if anyone needs to be taken to task it should be the parents of these children. i understand that as a parent you don`t have control of everything your child sees, hears or interacts with, but it is your responsibility as a parent to give you children the tools to deal with these situations. being armed with the right information can help children can make the right decisions.

the key is not waiting until you think they`re the right age. there is no right age. children are intelligent and voracious by nature, they absorb what`s around them, they learn by example and osmosis. part of the job description as a parent is to create an environment that will help them maintain your value system even when they`re not in your presence.

the reason porn is so prevalent is the value we attach to it. the day sexuality and the human body regain their rightful places as a simple part of human development, the sex industry is going to go out of business.

learn something new today, follow the sex education web circle

Soylent Green

May 17, 2004 — Leave a comment

how appropriate, that the morality police should strike in May, it is national masturbation month, obviously this witch hunt is one person`s onanistic endeavour. please don`t sit back and think it`s not your problem. keep this in mind:

In Germany they first came for the Communists,

and I didn`t speak up because I wasn`t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn`t speak up because I wasn`t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn`t speak up because I wasn`t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I didn`t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —

and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

speak up, make your voice be heard. you may not have nudes in your gallery or erotica in your journal, but the first step is always the doozy. if that`s how it begins, how soon do you think before the language we use or the thoughts we express may be suppressed for not fitting someone`s ideal of morality.


a couple people have asked who do we speak to, well i would suggest JS-development, but i`m sure they have their hands full dealing with other stuff. so i`m suggesting you post in your journal a sex positive link and/or a nude photo/illustration/sculpture of a human form, particularly if you are a parent. neither nudity or sexuality are bad things and people need to realise that. the only way to counter this kind of ignorance is through education.

Fahrenheit 451

May 16, 2004 — Leave a comment

i`m a lot calmer today, almost purely by the good graces of my wife. i`m still annoyed by the moralising but i`ll live, however in the midst of the visitors on friday i was trolled by, which begs the question, am i just being paranoid or am paranoid enough?

as to complaints about nakedness in this journal or any other, i`d like to leave you with this thought:

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:25, King James Version

and today`s link

last night the good wyf and i sat and sorted out combined cd collections and put them in alphabetical order and as with the books we have more cds than shelving. this after a major culling after i arrived and another culling last night. we have a lot of music, a diverse selection that covers classical, hard rock, new wave, massive amounts of techno, compilations and soundtracks whose variety are quite impressive.

we also combined our mp3 libraries. i culled albums that i still own in their original format to make room on the 25Gb drive for the tunes that were rescued from the dying iMac. It`s interesting to see what compromises our 4800 tracks, some of it would not have graced my collection voluntarily and i`m sure there is some stuff in there that would make vic`s ears bleed if she were forced to listen to it as well but it`s nice to see the stuff there, like the books, it`s one of those signs that we`re one household, finally.

i`m doing the final clean up, with a collection this large it`s easy to miss overlaps, especially when we share musical tastes. when we stopped last night it was close to midnight and when you`re tired it`s easy to miss stuff.

there is no bad language. there is inappropriate language, but no bad language. there is a time and place for everything. i`m sure there are people who go through their entire lives without uttering an epithet, bully for them. i have an above average vocabulary, but sometimes there is nothing as satisfying as letting a few choice expletives fly.

there are none that i find particularly objectionable or unconscionable and used in combination they can be quite entertaining. i`ve realised different english speaking cultures have attached different currency to some words. in the UK, `cunt` is a purely a descriptive adjective, in Trinidad combined with `mother`s`, those are fighting words, in the US it seems to waiver but mostly on the unappealing side. i try not to use it as a epithet, because i worship at that altar. in Jamaican culture the worse thing you can say to someone revolves around the word cloth or `claat` as it`s pronounced and refers to a menstruation rag.

when i was in high school i had an altercation with another student which resulted in my cursing him out in an English class, what made this interesting is the reaction of my English teacher, who took the opportunity to teach us about inflection. it was he who taught me about inappropriate language and how we say something, sometimes matters more than what we say.