Celebrity Gossip Break

Oy vey. It was only a matter of time before we heard from “Balloon Boy’s” dad again. This time, Richard Heene, who pleaded guilty for falsely telling police that his 6-year-old son flew away in a homemade balloon, told Larry King that the media circus wasn’t a hoax after all.

From the Associated Press:

In his first television interview since shortly after the Oct. 15 event, Richard Heene said that he believed that his 6-year-old son, Falcon, was in the homemade balloon when it took off from the family’s Fort Collins backyard….

Heene said he pleaded guilty to a felony count of falsely influencing authorities to protect his wife, Mayumi, a Japanese citizen who he said may have faced deportation if convicted of a more serious crime. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting.

Do you believe him? The family, by the way, has not been allowed to financially benefit from the hoax, or whatever it was.

Other folks for which it was only a matter of time they would do their own sit-downs: Tiger Woods. A ripped Woods will grace the cover of Vanity Fair, according to People magazine. According to the magazine, the photos were shot before the scandal hit.

Also in People: Actor Vince Vaughn married Canadian real estate agent Kyla Weber on Saturday. By AP: Diff’rent Strokes actor Gary Coleman was hospitalized for what he believes was a slight seizure.

Any other celebrity news or gossip catch your eye?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The healthcare bill passed a key Senate vote yesterday early morning, according to the Associated Press. This vote, which was passed by the 58 Democrats and two Independents, puts the bill on track for passage before Christmas. The healthcare overhaul is expected to cover 30 million uninsured Americans. AP also had a list of “winners” and “losers” of the bill.

MomsRising.org circulated a YouTube clip of Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) answering questions about the healthcare bill.

The U.S. Department of Transportation just set a three-hour limit for an airplane to sit on a tarmac without letting passengers off, according to the Washington Post. Furthermore, the airlines must also provide adequate food and potable water for passengers within two hours of an aircraft being delayed on the tarmac.

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog had a not-so-fun list of pregnancy “pains in the butt” like sciatica and nighttime trips to the bathroom.

The Army general commanding U.S. forces in northern Iraq has prohibited pregnancy among his officers, according to the military Stars and Stripes newspaper. A soldier who becomes pregnant or impregnates anyone can face court martial and even jail time.

Because Conde Nast shut down Cookie magazine, it is now giving subscribers Vanity Fair subscriptions. It is an interesting choice, considering one would presumably never associate Vanity Fair with parenting articles!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Child Predator or Police Entrapment?

Vanity Fair had a fascinating and sad article about the overblown public hysteria over online predators.

While VF writer Mark Bowden made sure to point out that there are some real sickos online, he also had these numbers:

Yet the more numerous aggressors may be the police. Three researchers at the University of  New Hampshire reported earlier this year that during the period between 2000 and 2006, when Internet use by juveniles grew between 73 and 93 percent, the number of people arrested for soliciting sex online from them grew only 21 percent, from 508 to 615. The number of people arrested for soliciting sex from undercover police like Deery, however, rose 381 percent during the same period. In other words, alleged child-molesters like J are many, many times more likely to be locked up for approaching detectives than children. And despite this full-court press on Internet child predation, those arrested for it represent only 1 percent of all arrests for sex crimes against children and adolescents.

Bowden also published the online chat between “J” and the Detective Deery, who posed as a mother with two small children. Throughout most of the thread, it appears that J only wanted to sleep with Deery, but she kept bringing up the the two girls. Thinking that he could not get the mom without the daughters, he created a fantasy that involved the two girls and was unpublishable — even for Vanity Fair. He has never molested a child, but still had to serve a one-year prison sentence plus probation and was listed as a sex offender for what he wrote in the chat. In the article, which is not online, Bowden seemed to suggest this was “entrapment” by police. Here is what he had to say about the detective and J in a follow-up interview with Vanity Fair.

Detective Michele Deery seemed to have some vigilante sensibilities.

Well, she has a worldview, and it’s not unlike that of many police, which is: they are protecting society from bad guys. And very often the technical rules that bind them get in their way.

Are the police damaging to society?

It leads to innocent people going to jail. In the case of J., we’re not talking about a person who’s innocent in a larger sense—he’s a troubled person, and he would agree, I think. But is he guilty of being a child molester? No. I think the story makes plain that not only did he not molest any children, but he had no intention of ever doing so. What struck me most about the detective’s approach was that she was less interested in determining whether J. was a threat to children than she was in getting the conviction.

While I could see how this threat would be overblown like kidnapping — children are most likely to be kidnapped by people they know rather than complete strangers — it is devastating when it does happen.  Also, I was disturbed — although not surprised — by VF editor Graydon Carter’s take on filmmaker Roman Polanski’s crime of child rape. Here is what he had to say about it:

In a funny way, opinion on the matter divides along the line between people  who know Polanski and those who don’t. The former group wants him free; the latter group wants him punished. I am the father of five, including two young daughters, and his crime upsets me terribly. But I have huge admiration for him as a man who has worked valiantly to re-assemble a life and reputation and to become a good husband and father. Even during the trial in London, my affection for him never flagged. Perhaps many of his supporters are correct. Perhaps he should be treated differently. Perhaps, in this case, the punishment should fit the criminal rather than the crime. Perhaps the act of penance that would do the greatest amount of lasting good would be for Polanski not to go to jail but instead to spend the next period of his life — perhaps the rest of his life — using his protean talents as a filmmaker to create an anti-rape feature, one that would show the brutality and consequences of his heinous act.

While I admit to swaying between forgiveness and utter disgust myself, I can’t help but think of the message it would send to his 13-year-old victim who has been changed for the rest of her life. That because he is famous, she is not allowed to receive justice? Sure, Polanski has had his share of tragedies in his life and he is very talented, but this doesn’t mean it is okay to give him a pass on such a heinous crime. I can’t help but think there is a tint of classism here as I am not sure how many of his supporters would easily forgive a low-income and no-name stranger raping their own daughters.

Then again, the magazine did compassionately cover the case of J, an anonymous working class and church-going man who must atone for his sins the rest of his life even though he did not actually rape anyone.

Anyways, these articles are worth a read.


Late-Night Liberty: Random Factoids Edition

Vanity Fair and 60 Minutes recently released a poll with random, but fascinating poll results like how 1 in 10 people thought California should secede from the United States. In second place? Texas, with 8 percent of the vote.

Judging from this month’s 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll, we are a hygiene-conscious nation — made up of anything but tobacco farmers and journalists — that plays it close to the vest and enjoys, in its free time, not reading the memoirs of Republican political figures….

We said “plays it close to the vest.” By and large, Americans are a conservative bunch, in the philosophical if not the political sense. We found no panic about swine flu.

Here were some of the poll’s interesting findings:

It used to be that many parents wanted their children to become doctors, bankers, lawyers, or the president. If they had a choice, WHICH OF THESE PROFESSIONS do you think most parents would want their children to pursue now?

Everyone — both parents and non-parents — said 63 percent of parents want their children to become a doctor, banker, lawyer or president. Another 10 percent said parents wanted their children to become an Internet mogul while 9 percent said humanitarian-aid worker. At the bottom of the list were “athlete” (6 percent) and movie star or rock star (3 percent). Sadly, more parents wanted their children to become a doctor, lawyer, banker or president (65 percent), Internet mogul (13 percent) and athlete (9 percent). Less parents wanted their children to become a humanitarian-aid worker (6 percent) and movie star or athlete (2 percent). Yes, we are in a recession, folks.

Here is the secession question:

Some protesters against the administration’s health-care proposals have been seen carrying signs calling for their states to secede. If you could PICK ONE STATE TO REMOVE from the United States, which one would it be?

Like I mentioned above, 10 percent said California and 8 percent responded with Texas. Alaska and Hawaii garnered 3 percent of the vote each. “None/Not sure” got a whopping 60 percent of the vote.

Here is what we really think of Facebook. “How do you feel about becoming friends with business acquaintances on FACEBOOK?”

Sixty percent of respondents said they don’t use Facebook at all. Another 14 percent said, “Don’t mix business and Facebook,” while another 11 percent said, “Great way to network.” At the bottom of the list, only 4 percent responded with, “Only to avoid hurt feelings” and another 7 percent never even heard of Facebook. I was surprised that 67 percent of people don’t use Facebook or have not heard of it at all. It seems to be ubiquitous with its own vocabulary and even “townhall” type culture. Wow.

By the way, 40 percent of Vanity Fair readers said marijuana should be legalized, but not steroids in pro-sports (10 percent).

What interesting tidbits have you learned lately? This is an open thread so feel free to discuss what you’d like!


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Sorry for the paltry post, but I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning and am volunteering in Ari’s English class this morning instead.

But I did notice that Johnny Depp was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. While I love Johnny, after reviewing the very sexy photos of Edward Cullen impersonator Robert Pattinson in this month’s Vanity Fair, I have to say I am surprised. What do you think? Who do you think should have been Sexiest Man Alive?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Harvard’s Endowment Collapses

Considering all the glowing news stories on how it is practically giving away educations to middle class families, I was shocked to learn in Vanity Fair that Harvard expanded so quickly that its $36.9 billion endowment has collapsed.

‘There are going to be a hell of a lot of layoffs. Courses will be cut. Class sizes will get bigger,“ conceded a Harvard insider, who, like every other administrator on campus, was not permitted to speak openly to me on the classified subject of alignments and resizements and belt-tightenings.

Radical change is coming to Harvard. Fewer professors, for one thing. Fewer teaching assistants, janitors, and support staff. Shuttered libraries. Less money for research and travel and books. Cafés replaced by vending machines. Junior-varsity sports teams downgraded to clubs. No raises. No bonuses. No fresh coats of paint or new carpets. Overflowing trash cans.

The recession has been hard on most Americans. We know that. At Harvard, however, adjusting to the end of the gilded age, the champagne age, is proving especially wrenching: the university’s endowment has collapsed, donations are down, budgets are overstretched. With so many enormous fixed costs—and with much of its endowment restricted by the narrowly defined wishes of donors—there’s almost no room left to maneuver.

What’s more, the university is facing the onerous financial consequences of over-building. Consider this: Over the 20-year period from 1980 to 2000, Harvard University added nearly 3.2 million square feet of new space to its campus. But that’s nothing compared with the extravagance that followed. So far this decade, from 2000 through 2008, Harvard has added another 6.2 million square feet of new space, roughly equal to the total number of square feet occupied by the Pentagon. All across campus, one after another, new academic buildings have shot up. The price of these optimistic new projects: a breathtaking $4.3 billion.

I love the headlines at Vanity Fair, by the way. While I hope Harvard’s predicament does not extend to slashing financial aid, I did get a chuckle from this headline: “I.V. League: If Harvard is so smart, how come its record $36.9 billion endowment has collapsed?”

Oh snap!


Friday Open Thread

What’s up?

Update on our Janet aka “Janetle:” She continues to wage a fight for her life. Her husband Dave, who has not strayed from her side, has been regularly updating her blog Mukilteo Musings. Let’s continue to keep this family in our thoughts and prayers.  

A doctor over at the Opposing Views blog weighed in on the pros and cons of soy. Bottom line: Like anything else, a little soy can be good for you, but a diet solely comprised of it can mess with your hormone levels. Also in Opposing Views: A topless coffee shop just opened up in Maine. Maine moms, you must weigh in!

This makes sense to me: A federal study just confirmed that eating less carbs, less fat, or more protein does not necessarily lead to weight loss, according to an Associated Press report. What counts is burning more calories than what you are consuming.

OC Moms blog had an interesting discussion whether it was possible to shelter your children from a “raunch” culture. This particular mom was wondering if she should homeschool rather than send her child to public school to protect her from negative influences.

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids listed dishes — like old china — that may contain high levels of lead as well as tips to minimize your family’s exposure.

The Motherhood had a very brief discussion about which words to google when looking for a toy for a special needs child. Also in The Motherhood: How do you politely decline an invitation to play when a child drops by unexpectedly?

Fellow MTer Mara over at her blog The Mother of All Trips discussed why travel is important to her family even in bad economic times.

Our Dana over at Mombian had an interesting article about a proposed bill in Massachusetts that could potentially impact gay and lesbian students as well as the children of gay parents. House Minority Leader Bradley Jones filed a bill that would require parents to opt into any “curriculum, or a school sanctioned program or activity, which involves human sexual education, human sexuality issues, or sexual orientation issues” in the public schools. Dana rightfully wondered whether her son, for example, would be able to show a picture of his two moms during show and tell. Good question.

I never thought I would say this, but the comments in this discussion at Ladies’ Home Journal were hilarious. Readers lit into a woman who cancelled her subscription because Ellen DeGeneres was on the cover and she is not a “lady.” “There are a lot of straight women who are not ladies either,” one reader retorted. “The majority of the world would be glad to welcome you to 2009 whenever you would like to join us,” said another. LOL!

Libby Gruner over at Literary Mama reviewed the book Coraline.

The Washington Post ran a review of the second version of the Kindle electronic reader. Honesty? I have never even seen anyone use the first version. Have any of you replaced your paper books with a Kindle? What do you think?

Via MSN: Here is an amazing spread of all the celebrities that attended the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. In more celebrity gossip: The OC Moms blog is having a discussion on the reality show Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Thursday Open Thread

According to this article, if you’re overweight and can’t manage to lose weight, your friends may be to blame. A study of more than 12,000 people found that when a person becomes obese, their friends are 57% more likely to also put on weight. So I guess the secret is, wanna lose weight? Have skinny friends.

New York women dominated Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list. Among those mentioned were Sarah Jessica Parker (the only actress listed) and Ivanka Trump. Also mentioned, although not from the big apple, was First Lady hopeful, Michelle Obama.

Want to find out if your friends are toxic? Take the quiz! I took it, and found that I could have it worse! At least they’re fun to be around!

LifeStyle Condoms wants Miley Cyrus to be the spokesgirl of their condoms. Didn’t she throw a “Britney” and exclaim that she was going to wait for marriage to have sex? Hmmm…best of both worlds, indeed.

President Bush will leave (hopefully) Barack Obama with a record-high budget deficit of $482 billion, according to an administration estimate released on Monday. Wow! Leaving with a bang, ain’t he?

Speaking of ol’ W, Oliver Stone’s movie trailer for “W” shows a hard-partying Georgie. Will you see it?

Finally, I’d like to share the story of Christian the Lion. Darn! The lump in my throat has started to form.


Let me grab a tissue…

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Celebrity Gossip Break: Bette Midler

This month’s Vanity Fair “Proust Questionnaire” featured entertainer Bette Midler. And what a class act she is:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
An empty house and a good book.

What is your greatest fear?
That the greatest days of my country are past.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Ignorance and arrogance.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My roots.

Which living person do you most despise?
The Bluetooth-wearing S.U.V. driver who idles in front of my building.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My daughter, Sophie.

Amen sister!


Double Standard on Celebrity Nudity?

In light of all the grief teen pop star Miley Cyrus received in posing provocatively for Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly shot back with evidence that if Miley were Miles she would not have had to endure the public’s disapproval. The magazine dug up at least four instances, in which male teen celebs were given a pass for racy photos:

Vanessa Hudgens apologized after a nude shot hit the Web last year, while Pete Wentz got away with warning fans against taking risqué photos after his own pics leaked in 2006.

When Lindsey Lohan re-created a topless Marilyn Monroe photo shoot for New York magazine, the website received millions of hits–and so did her struggling career. Yet frenzied fans snapped up tickets to see Daniel Radcliffe get naked in Equus.

Sundance 2007: Dakota Fanning‘s Hounddog–featuring the actress in a rape scene–bows amid a public outcry and calls for an investigation. Sundance 2008: Audiences shrug off a sex scene in The Wackness that involves Nickelodeon star Josh Peck (Drake & Josh).

Blogs went nuts over video of a slurring Ashlee Simpson at a Canadian McDonald’s in 2005. But after Shia LaBeouf was arrested for allegedly refusing to leave a Chicago drugstore in 2007? Lots of talk about his supercute mug shot. Oh, and the charges were dropped.

Then again, for the exception of Daniel Radcliffe, I have never even heard of these guys! Nonetheless, there does seem to be a pattern of double standards here. What do you all think?

In related news, R&B singer R. Kelly was charged with child pornography. This is the same guy who married the late artist Aaliyah when she was only 15 — and has not served a day in prison for it. Ick.