Friday, February 5, 2010

Afghan society is very complex, and Afghanistan has a very complex culture. Part of the reason it has remained unknown is because of this complexity.

Our presence in Afghanistan is not worth the price of any more American lives or treasure.

Since January 2002, when the United States began detaining at Guantanamo Bay enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other fronts in the war on terror, critics have complained of human rights abuses.

Since the intervention in Afghanistan, we suddenly began to notice when, in political discussions, we found ourselves only among Europeans or Israelis.

The administration has a disturbing pattern of behavior when it comes to budgeting not only for the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but also for military requirements not directly related to these conflicts.

The misery in war-torn Afghanistan is reminiscent of images from the Thirty Years' War.

The question in their minds was, why did the outside world, and particularly the Western world, produce all these landmines, and send them to Afghanistan? This business must be stopped. It's a dirty business to produce such a horrible device.

We haven't been out in many of these countries helping them build infrastructure. How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that, rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?

What President Bush did in his doctrine of preemptive strike and in his war in Afghanistan and in Iraq was to turn even his allies in Europe negatively toward America.

""These have been significant steps in the right direction. Have we got absolutely everything we wanted? Not yet." - TONY BLAIR

"“We’ve lost five staff and our guards have killed thirty-four people in the last month and we’re just a construction company...This isn’t reconstruction, not construction, not even combat construction: this is war.”- WESTERN CONTRACTOR, afghanistan.

"Be prepared to go back to the stone age'"- RICHARD ARMITAGE, to PERVEZ MUSHARAFF, if he did not cooperate in the War on Terror.

"The economy is moving forward. Afghans are hungry. We are tired of war and we want to buy. We want to build."
The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.
These nations have progressed through this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complaceny to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage.

Sir Alex Fraser Tyler: (1742-1813) Scottish jurist and historian

Major General Messenger said that Op MOSHTARAK was the second phase of a plan to secure central Helmand from the influence of the Taliban, the first stage being the moves led by Major General Nick Carter to secure areas around Kandahar and the improvement of movement on Highway 1 and Highway 601, which run through Helmand province.

Op MOSHTARAK, which will be led by the US Marine Corps, is yet to begin, but operations over the last 36 hours by British and Afghan forces have been building momentum towards it.

Major General Messenger said: "In the last 36 hours there's been a combined aviation and ground operation to the south of Nad 'Ali, but the main muscle groups involved in phase two have yet to commence.

"And Task Force Helmand, the British with the Grenadier Guards Battle Group, supplemented by a company from the Royal Welsh and a company from the Scots Guards, and partnered at company level by the Afghans, have in the last 36 hours conducted a combined aviation and ground operation in this area here, with the intent to improve security in an area which has been a bit of an irritant in terms of insurgency operating from that area, and affecting the security around the district centre and the bazaar that abuts it.

"They will be remaining there with an enduring ground holding presence in that area there."

Major General Messenger emphasised that when the major offensive does begin it will be a multi-national ISAF operation, of which British forces are a part.

He also stressed that the areas targeted are areas that have not been cleared before. He said that they are areas that have long wanted to be cleared by commanders and now they have the manpower to do so - both ISAF and Afghan.

In line with talking about the intention to launch an offensive, Major General Messenger said that the plan was to clear the area in a way that was 'as least aggressive as possible'.

He said "it is about the security of the population, not fighting down insurgent numbers," but added that a fight cannot be discounted and, with that, casualties.

It was also stressed that subsequent to the clearance operation, the holding stage of the process was as much a part of the planning as the clearance stage, the first not being possible until forces for the holding stage were in place.

On the holding forces he said: "It has both an ISAF dimension, facilitated by the uplift [in troop numbers], but it also has a very strong Afghan dimension of ANA and ANP, and the roles of those organisations are quite clearly defined in the post-op planning that has taken place."

Speaking from Kabul ahead of the announcement by Major General Messenger, Lieutenant General Nick Parker, ISAF Deputy Commander in Afghanistan, said that Op MOSHTARAK was the first part of a three-stage plan to increase security in the country.

He said that after the insurgency in the south had been subdued British forces would move to building capacity in the Afghan National Security Forces and that this would likely become the main effort later in the year.

The third stage will be transition and the reintegration of insurgents and sympathisers into Afghan society through an Afghan-led reintegration policy.

Company or Organisation Portrait:
UK Ministry of Defence
The English assault continues.

Brits in Afghanistan surge to purge Taliban
By Chris Hughes 5/02/2010

Britain's top military officer in Afghanistan yesterday revealed our troops are all set to smash hardcore Taliban forces in their own backyard.

In one of the biggest operations in years, thousands will pour into some the last remaining Taliban strongholds in Helmand.

Operation Mostarak - meaning "together" in the local Pashtun - will see waves of British, US and Afghan troops surge into target areas in the next few weeks.

Lt Gen Nick Parker said: "We are fixing the enemy with a beady eye. We are taking him on wherever he is most virulent."

British, American and Afghan commanders are happy for vague details of their plans to come out as it may mean some civilians will leave the area.

In an initial strike, a Grenadier Guards battle group, along with soldiers from the Royal Welsh and Scots Guards, have hit the Taliban in a helicopter-borne assault along with Afghan soldiers in central Helmand.

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Lt Gen Parker said: "So far we've tended to focus on the insurgents and detaching them from the population by killing or capturing them. The philosophy now is to protect the population and minimise civilian casualties.

"We have to get them to help us detach the Taliban from within their midst. I think that this is going to be a successful year."

More than 1,000 mourners yesterday paid their last respects to hero bomb disposal expert Captain Daniel Read.

Dan, 31, from Newquay, Cornwall, died last month trying to defuse a roadside bomb in northern Helmand. He had already saved scores of lives by making safe 32 IEDs.

His best friend Daved Kirby told a packed Truro Cathedral: "The man was a legend."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Good Morning Afghanistan

THE ISAF burned a civilian car in Afghanistan and killed those inside. So then, somebody brought it to Australia.

Out of Oz.

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

I always like to see what is going on in Australia.

ELEANOR HALL: The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says Australia will keep a close eye on the $25 million it's pledged to the Afghan Government to help in disarming the Taliban.

Australia is one of the first nations to contribute to a new fund that was set up by 70 countries meeting in London overnight to discuss Afghanistan's future.

More than $150 million was pledged but Australia along with other nations has demanded oversight of the fund to ensure that it's not mismanaged.

Our Europe correspondent Emma Alberici spoke to Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith after the meeting.

STEPHEN SMITH: I've indicated $50 million for the Afghan Reconstruction Fund, for the building of infrastructure and the like done through the World Bank; and $25 million for the new Peace and Reintegration Fund because there has to be in Afghanistan a political rapprochement, a political settlement and a reintegration into mainstream Afghan society of those people who are happy to eschew violence, lay down their arms and comply with the Afghan Constitution.

EMMA ALBERICI: What makes you think that the Taliban are willing to do that?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well we know from all our advice - and it's not just Australia it's the international community, the UN - that there are very many people in Afghanistan who run with or fight with the Taliban who are not ideologically committed. They're not on an international jihad. They're not part of global international terrorism. They just see no other way of life or role for themselves.

If they can be shown that there's a better future for them, their families and their country, employment opportunities, provision of services, and they're willing and happy to lay down their arms, comply with the Afghan Constitution, resolve any grievances through peaceful and democratic means then they can form part of mainstream Afghan society.

EMMA ALBERICI: Are you comfortable with paying people one day who yesterday were trying to kill Australian troops?

STEPHEN SMITH: It's not a matter of giving money to those people directly or changing the paymaster. When you try and end any conflict you can't end any conflict just by military solution alone. There always has to carry with it a civilian or a political rapprochement as well. And that's what needs to be effected here.

We want the Afghan Government and the Afghan nation and the Afghan people to take responsibility for security matters, to take responsibility for capacity building, to take responsibility for winning a nation and winning the peace.

That can't be done by use of military force alone. It has to be done in a way which also includes political rapprochement, political reconciliation and reintegration back into mainstream society of those people who currently do support the Taliban.

But there's a qualitative difference between a hardcore Al Qaeda associated terrorist and someone who sees no alternative road for themselves or route for themselves and their family because of current circumstances in Afghanistan.

EMMA ALBERICI: And how does Australia establish which one is which?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well it's not a matter of Australia establishing that. This is a project established by the Afghanistan Government.

We have said that we are prepared to make a contribution to it but we want to be involved in the governance arrangements. We want to be involved in oversight of the administration of the fund. And the same is true of the international community.

EMMA ALBERICI: Hamid Karzai wasn't able to run clean elections. Do you trust him with the administration of this money?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well I've made the point both before the Afghan election and after the Afghan election that whoever emerged from the Afghan election had to make substantial progress on governance, on corruption, anti-narcotics and the like.

We saw the commitment from President Karzai in his inauguration speech and we saw those commitments reaffirmed today by him and his ministers.

This is not a trust fund that will be administered personally by President Karzai. It'll, the details will be worked through by the Government of Afghan, by President Karzai and his Ministers and his Government; oversight and involvement from the United Nations officers, from the international community.

It's a quite simple, straightforward choice. You either have the view that the only solution in Afghanistan is a military one or it is use of military and combat forces to ensure peace and security but then resolve grievances through building a nation and a political rapprochement. And that's reflected by the decisions made by the conference today generally and in respect of the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith speaking in London to our Europe correspondent Emma Alberici.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I loved this story.

Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in the 1992-93 season and underwent six weeks of chemotherapy. He eventually returned to the lineup.

On Thursday morning, Lemieux's fight with the disease came to the forefront again when he invited fellow Hodgkin's survivor Michael Saikali, 11, of Ottawa to skate with him at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.

"Anytime that Make-A-Wish calls it is always welcome by the whole organization and myself," Lemieux said to the Penguins website. "That is the least we can do to make him feel better."

Saikali is a true-blue Penguins fan whose wish was to skate with the Penguins owner. The Eastern Ontario chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted the Penguins, and Michael was able to realize his dream as he and his family all travelled to Pittsburgh.

"To make a young kid's dream come true is just unbelievable," Habib Saikali, Michael's father, said. "This is more than what we expected. Words can't express or explain the emotions I am going through. This is unbelievable."

Lemieux and Michael passed the puck around and took part in a few drills. "It was so exciting because I always wanted to skate with him," Michael said.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
So, basically the top priority for a while has been Aafia's trial, simply because it is so landmark, so devastating, and such an utter imbroglio.

But, I came across at the ACLU. Have a look- its a trip to a a new destination, for sure ;)
This just appeared on NewsTalk, one of Australia's talk radio blogs, with lots of supportive comments below. I don't know anything about this bra, having never seen one, but the description was certainly interesting ;)

DR MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: Get a load of this:

"We magnify the body, we perfect the silhouette, we help to cheat."

That was said about push-up bras by a woman who manages a French company which invented them.

A bra now being marketed to girls who haven't even hit their teens and, mostly, will not possess anything that needs support, let alone need a lacy push-up number.

In yet another example of the sexualisation of girls, Best and Less is selling the Tween-age Push-up Bra. Tweens have been defined as aged 6-12.

Now, as most people know, push-up bras are designed to show off cleavage. Obviously the inventors of the tween push-up bra don't care if there is no 'cleavage' to start with. They will help a young girl cheat and make it look like there is. Underwire padding, boosting: helping create the illusion that this little girl is much more developed than she really is.

And why would you want to do that exactly?

Why would a child need to have her body magnified? What is a perfect silhouette for a child? Why would a child be required to cheat? Why adultify little girls?

We are telling little girls that their bodies are not acceptable as they are. And that their bodies are supposed to draw attention, primarily male attention. The earlier these messages hit them, the more ingrained they become. They are being groomed to see their bodies as sexual objects.

Normalising and encouraging the appearance of breasts on prepubescent children puts them in danger.

We are witnessing the disappearance of spontaneity, unselfconsciousness, curiosity and fun in girls – qualities that were once valued for their role in developing a strong sense of self identity; enabling girls to journey into adulthood in a natural and healthy way. But now they are body conscious – indeed self-loathing – at younger ages, wracked by fear and self-doubt, wondering if they are good enough.

The manufacturers of the push-up bra for little girls know this, and are preying on it.

They need to be held accountable. Tell Best and Lest what you think. Email:, Phone: (02) 95613400.

This is my email to them:

I am a child and adolescent psychologist who works in the media and I am incandescent with rage with the bone brained individual in your company who thought it would be a brilliant idea to sell push up bras to prepubescent girls!

There are so many reasons why this runs counter to what we know is in the best interests of young girls - it is difficult to know where to start.

I can only refer you to the American Psychological Society Taskforce report on the impact of early sexualisation and hope that you reprimand the cretin who made this decision and immediately withdraw the product.


Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
Jillian Strauss has book out that I would also like to read, called Unhooked Generation, in which she argues that "casual consumer sex" inhibits people's potential to be in healthy relationships. Here's a description of her book, from the book's website:

If this definition applies to you then you are just like me. At the age of thirty, I, like many of my male and female friends, found myself single and wondering why finding love seemed so much more difficult today than it was for our parents. I wanted to find out, if I could, why the search for love and commitment had become such an angst-ridden journey. I started by interviewing a hundred single people throughout the country. These men and women revealed intimate details about their love lives and sex lives, sharing experiences they have never revealed to friends, lovers or therapists. Through their compelling stories I discovered that it is not that we individually incapable of relationships (or that our partners are) rather, the problem is much deeper. Today, romance and commitment are a foreign land to us. We are searching for love in an uncommitted world.

Unhooked Generation is my story, the story of my peers, and of generation X, perhaps it is your story too. It is my hope that through the stories of these single men and women that you will recognize yourself and begin to understand how our generation's approach to relationships can be counterproductive. Along the way you will see terms, from "friends with benefits" to what I call the "DTR" the defining the relationship conversation, that hopefully will make you laugh and nod with recognition. I will also share the secrets of happy couples that will teach us how to side-step the landmines on the road to long-term love once and for all. Whether you are single or a in a committed relationship I hope that Unhooked Generation will help you approach your relationships differently, as it did for me.
The hookup is so much a part of the subtext on college campuses that this scenario that Mustafa is describing below happens all the time. He writes the sex column at the Daily Californian. Horrifying? Yes. Hard on women and even men? Indubitably. His premise also leads back to one of Ms. Shalit's key assertions- without the numbing effect of alcohol, many women wouldn't be able to supersede their biological drives and fully realize the dream of the sexuality-industrial complex.

That's likely why I became so fond of the whole drunk hook-up scene. It is clean and simple.

Hook-up, walk the girl back home, make some small talk about how you should hang out again, exchange numbers and then see each other randomly on Sproul a few weeks later.

Simply putting yourself out there and asking a girl out for lunch-let alone sharing your feelings-is a lot more complicated.

A strange thing has been happening to me though; over fall semester during those late-night walks back, I started getting this odd empty feeling.

You know sometimes how you'll have salad for dinner, and afterwards you don't feel completely satisfied? Well that's the feeling I'd get.

We have a saying in my house: "Do it for the story."

That motto has pushed me to do a bunch of crazy things that I was able to recount with my buddies when I woke up the next morning. (To the 40-something mom I met at the Big Game, if you're still looking for your sunglasses, I have them.)

Even though I'm still a little bummed out over this Joakim thing, I feel pretty good about it on the whole. I never viewed her as a story, but hey, in retrospect, it makes for quite the tale.

Who knows, I might start asking girls out for lunch and opening up to them instead of just jumping to the sloppiness. Whoa, let's slow down there big guy.

Something tells me there are many a story to be had this semester. I'm back, baby.

Get together with Mustafa for Sunday brunch at
I just found out that one my long awaited reads, Unprotected, by Miriam Grossman, has its home on the world wide web- google books has a copy out there, no doubt shared by some generous library, and I've linked to it for your enjoyment. Its not present in its entirety, and indeed, I haven't read it all, but I am going through it now and coming up with some unadulterated gems.

To wit: "How scandalous," Ms. Grossman reveals, "that the very profession we trust to guide and heal is sowing confusion and mental illness." She is talking about psychotherapy and how it has turned its back on some of the time honoured wisdom about abstinence. She also subscribes to a form of gender essentialism- that is to say, that men and women are fundamentally, biologically different. I think the main thrust of her argument holds validity regardless- even if it accommodates the truism that men can be deeply damaged by casual encounters too, although they may have only a little more immunity from this type of behaviour.

Wendy Shalit notes the above in her seminal book: A return to modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, in her anecdotal observation about a friend's son who engages in casual relationship only to find himself deeply affected when the intimacy ends. "Mom?" He says uncertainly. "I'm not sure I want to be her friend."
The abstinence study that I posted yesterday has spiralled all over the web. Here's a user comment on it, that I really agreed with, on Gawker:

The most interesting paragraph, in my opinion.

"Over the next two years, about 33 percent of the students who went through the abstinence program started having sex, compared to about 52 percent who were just taught safe sex. About 42 percent of the students who went through the comprehensive program started having sex, and about 47 percent of those who just learned about other ways to be healthy. The abstinence program had no negative effects on condom use, which has been a major criticism of the abstinence approach."

So the kids who weren't taught abstinence had more sex than those who weren't taught anything? In other words, teaching sex ed without teaching abstinence is an incitement to have sex.

And teaching abstinence-only had no impact on condom use?


Monday, February 1, 2010

This story was on the Canadian Broadcasting website today:

An experimental abstinence-only program without a moralistic tone can delay young teens from having sex, a new U.S. study found.

Billed as the first rigorous research to show long-term success with an abstinence-only approach, the study released Monday differed from traditional programs that have lost U.S. federal and state support in recent years.

'The message was not mixed with any other messages.'— John Jemmott III

The classes didn't preach saving sex until marriage or disparage condom use. Instead, they involved assignments to help students around the age of 12 see the drawbacks to sexual activity at their age. It included having them list the pros and cons themselves, and it found their "cons" far outnumbered the "pros."

The study appears in the February edition of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. It involved 662 black children in Philadelphia.

The students were assigned to one of four options:

* Eight hour-long abstinence-only classes.
* Safe-sex classes.
* Classes incorporating both approaches.
* Classes in general healthy behaviour.

Two years later, about one-third of abstinence-only students said they'd had sex since the classes ended, versus nearly half — about 49 per cent — in each of the other three groups.
Programs often don't work

Critics of abstinence-only programs have long argued that most evidence shows they don't work. The new study challenges those results, but even the authors say this doesn't mean more comprehensive sex education should be ignored.

The abstinence-only program was based on social psychology theories about what motivates behaviour. It encouraged abstinence as a way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Psychologist John Jemmott III, the lead author, called the findings surprising given the negative results in previous abstinence-only research. Jemmott said the single focus may have been better at encouraging abstinence than the other approaches in his study.
Single-message approach

"The message was not mixed with any other messages," said Jemmott, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has long studied ways to reduce risky behaviour among inner-city youngsters.

Monica Rodriguez of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, an advocacy group favouring comprehensive sex education, said the study doesn't mean other abstinence-only programs would work.

"It's unfair to compare this abstinence-only intervention to the typical abstinence-only-until-marriage program that young people in this country have been put through," she said. These typically portray sex and condom use in a more negative light, she said.

Rodriguez said the program studied might be one approach to try with younger children, but it probably would be less successful with older, more sexually experienced teens.
Many already sexually active

Almost one-fourth of the teens studied said they'd already had sex at least once, similar to other studies of urban, mostly black children of middle school age, around 11 to 13 years old.

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Program, praised the study and said she hopes it revives U.S. government interest in abstinence-only sex education.

Last year, researchers in Toronto reported teens are being sexually active but are not getting the information or services they need to be properly educated about sex. The study's authors recommended age-appropriate sexual education for all grades, starting in kindergarten.
The U.S. study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Read more:
The celebrated creator of the Piano, a forever classic if there ever was one, had this to say about her latest movie.

Jane Campion has claimed that the build-up of tension rather than its release is the key to the "haunting strength" of romance.

The director of John Keats biopic Bright Star told W that she was attracted to the purity of the poet's relationship with seamstress Fanny Brawne.

Campion said: "I found it fascinating that it was so chaste. That's what gives it a lot of haunting strength and what makes it unique.

"I think the whole tension about romanticism is the way it builds and builds, and the moment it's consummated, the tension's over. And in this story the relationship never was consummated."

She added: "How sexy would it be to be the intimate of a poet like Keats, who wasn't just seducing you but telling you the truth as he knew it? He'd say, 'I don't know how I feel about women. I'm confused by my feelings'.

Sometimes he'd merely scribble notes that said, 'Don't forget to show yourself in the garden. I need to see you' or 'Give me something to put under my pillow tonight'. It's the kind of first love that everybody dreams of but very few of us actually have."
Defamer Australia bewails the Conservative lobby's views on asylum seekers, but has this to say on Tony Abbot's recent comments, after adding that a defense for someone with these particular affiliations was something that they had "never expected to write".

A short excerpt: "What’s Tony supposed to tell his girls – “Have completely unpleasant intercourse with the first meathead footballer who shouts you a few drinks with my blessing”?
The Australian Broadcasting Network is saying that Alexandra Adornetto "set chastity belts all aflutter with her weekend opinion piece in the Age." Ms. Adornetto, who is seventeen, was responding to Australian Opposition politician Tony Abbot's comments- that he hoped his daughter's would not give away their virginity lightly. Here is an excerpt of her highly articulate thoughts, which were carried by more than one paper in Australia:

Listening to teenage boys ridiculing girls they perceive to be ''easy'' leaves me feeling perturbed. I imagine that the girls have invested emotionally while the boys seem able to detach emotion from sex. Some graphically relate their sexual exploits and invent nicknames (''slutty-mc-slut-slut'' and ''parachute vagina'' are two I've heard). And girls are just as prone to judging each other.

Let me assure you that the need for a good reputation is still alive and well in leafy, middle-class Melbourne. I was recently at a bar with two close male friends. One of them, a very pretty and upstanding school captain, was virtually assaulted by two scantily clad, intoxicated girls who wasted no time in propositioning him for sex. Rather than being excited by the prospect, he found their advances both off-putting and embarrassing. It is disappointing that many girls are willing to trade self-respect for the privilege of changing their Facebook status to ''in a relationship''.

In an age where sex is used to sell everything from breakfast cereal to furniture, it has become easy to confuse sex with a true connection that is mutual and based on trust, respect and acceptance. Preserving one's virginity for the right person may not be a popular view but there's a lot to be said for it. Given that threesomes and even group sex are not that uncommon among my peers, it wouldn't hurt to revisit some traditional values.

While it is vital for girls to feel empowered and independent, this does not mean behaving in ways that compromise dignity and self-respect. It is unfortunate that even in our enlightened society, double standards persist. A boy can have as much sex as he likes and this makes him ''experienced'' or ''skilled'', but a girl is never spoken of favourably.

Some people are too concerned about being politically correct to admit that girls still need to be aware of their reputation. Perhaps it's time for school sex-ed programs to be about more than how to put on a condom. Actions have repercussions and teenagers need to be aware of this.

Teenagers have a natural curiosity and are keen to clock up experiences. What they need to be wary of is that some experiences may erode their sense of self and lead to a fragmentation of morals.

Tony Abbott was doing his paternal duty in wanting his daughters to feel respected and secure rather than used and abused. I can only applaud and, in keeping with his advice, my search for Mr. Worthy continues.
I really liked much of this letter that the reader that wrote to Ask Amy- Amy Dickinson. Amy had a paragraph or two in reply, not all of which was positive, but did say: "chastity certainly is an appropriate and achievable goal." Here's the letter- I edited it somewhat for clarity.

Dear Amy: Recently you ran a letter from "Still Looking," who believes in saving sex for marriage.

I wish I could have saved myself for one and only one sexual partner.

I hope you hear from and print letters from couples who have this great blessing. Sex with only a lifelong spouse is one of God's most precious gifts.

Virginity is indeed a rarity in our fallen world, but that does not eliminate it as an appropriate value by which to guide our actions.

I think there have been plenty of studies showing the damage premarital sex inflicts on women, including damage to their self-esteem.

We need to encourage and support chastity as an appropriate and achievable goal, rather than dismiss it as weird and silly, which is what your answer to "Looking" implied. -- Disappointed
From Ohio State University:

Picture this: You see a cute, spunky girl with blonde, coiffed hair, an overly made-up face with pink lipstick and blue eye shadow to match. She’s wearing an itty-bitty bikini with red hot pumps and a bright, white smile on her face. She sashays sexily across the stage and pulls moves that a high-class stripper would envy. Then you find out that she’s 7 years old.

In December 1996, 6-year-old beauty pageant star JonBenĂ©t Ramsey was kidnapped and murdered in her home Christmas day. Described by her parents as a “pint-sized sex kitten,”, Ramsey’s murder remains unsolved to this day. While there have been many false accusations and confessions, some people suspect that her beauty pageants and her sexualized outfits might have had something do with her murder.

Almost 14 years after Ramsey’s murder, thousands of girls as young as 2 have continued to enter these heated competitions with their stage moms acting as their pimp-managers.

While watching TLC’s “Toddlers and Tiaras,” I was disgusted and angered to see these innocent, young girls go through hours of sun tanning and airbrushing, hair and makeup, and sexy “dance” routines to prepare for an otherwise trivial contest to please their mothers. I was even more shocked when one little girl, wearing an extremely revealing bikini, posed provocatively in front of the cameras and declared, “I look gooooood!”

Although proponents of the pageant industry claim that these pageants “raise confidence and self-esteem” in their contestants, many fail to acknowledge that these pageants not only place an unhealthy emphasis on a girl’s physical attributes, but that they also sexualize and exploit these “pint-sized sex kittens” for pure entertainment. TLC’s show “Toddlers and Tiaras” has been met with so much disdain that hundreds of Facebook users have banned together to ban the “parade for pedophiles.”

Though the opponents of “Toddlers and Tiaras” and baby pageants come off as extremely harsh in their criticism, the critics do make a point. With scantily clad little girls gyrating on stage, it is no wonder that child pageants could be viewed as every pedophile’s dirty fantasy. Although parents of the pageant stars view these pageants as innocent, fun activities, many do not realize that there could possibly be some perverted person lurking in the background looking at their children in a not-so-innocent fashion.

Some people may say that these overpriced baby pageants are cute and that these pageants instill rigorous work ethic, a sense of responsibility and confidence in the minds of these young girls. You want to instill all these characteristics in a child? Then make her do chores around the house and reward her with allowance, and leave the lipstick, hair spray and sexed-up outfits in her mother’s closet.