The First Russian Joke I've Actually Found Funny

Courtesy of my friend from St. Petersburg

Two men are sitting in a bar talking. One is a train conductor. He says, "I'm so embarassed. Today I was on the train, and I was collecting tickets for Pittsville. I see this hot blonde, and instead of saying 'Now collecting all tickets to Pittsville' I said 'Now collecting all pricks to titsville.'"

The other man says, "You know, something like that happened to me too recently. I came home from work and my wife was upset, my supper was burned, the house was a mess. And instead of saying to my wife, 'Why is my supper burned, and the house a mess?' I said, 'You fucking bitch, you ruined my life.'"

I don't know why I'm laughing, but I am.

Because some of my students actually impress the hell out of me

One of my very first students (back when I didn't have a clue and was on meds while battling suicidal depression) recently sent me this email:

I want to pick your brains. Considering, the latest news about Africa and the AIDS controversy do you believe that the U.S. should intervene with the epidemic? If so, how? Why do you believe the epidmic is so widespread in Africa? Do you belive this epidemic combined with rebel attacks such as by the Janjaweed will wipe out Africa as we kow it and become a little America?

I pose this question because I am more than willing to forward your responses to her, as I am sure she is interested in any kind of thoughtful response and not just my own, but also to give context to my response:

You pose an interesting question in terms of law-do people have the right to be sick? For example, typhoid Mary was actually jailed to prevent her from spreading typhoid ( she was released but then reincarcerated for spreading typhoid-she didn't believe in germs or that she was sick). Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists as well as Scientologist often refuse treatment. Is a doctor supposed to allow you to die if it is your own choice? And what about contagious diseases like small pox or tuberculosis? Does treating the illness against the will of patient violate his/her first amendment right? When can the first amendment right to freedom of religion be trumped?

Generally my theory here is that the health of the world population exceeds that of personal rights. We live in a global village not just a national one. Diseases, including AIDS, have easily jumped borders. Considering the rate of travel and ability to cause a global epidemic, illness and its treatment is not the problem of a single country.

As for the cause of the epidemic...when I was in grad school I took a course called "Disease in History and Literature" which should have been called "Why we are all going to die THIS WEEK." We kicked off the semester with three weeks on AIDS, and a relief worker/scientific researcher from Africa came to speak to us. He also brought a documentary which followed some African women-AIDS volunteers who went aroun trying to convince African men and women to use condoms. It seems the main cause, portrayed in the documentary, was that men refuse to wear condoms. If a woman denies her husband sex because he won't wear a condom, she is often beaten and raped. Most of the volunteers were left by their husbands for refusing to have unprotected sex. ( Unfortunately I can not remember the name of the documentary.)

As for Africa becoming a "little America", I'm not sure. My instinct is to see it becoming more of a exploited for resources/military testing continent than the world's largest strip mall kind of deal.

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