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This Exists: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

Monday, October 31st, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Given that it’s the height of mid-seventies camp, involves plenty of outrageous costumes, plenty of music, and one kick-ass band rock band* peaking in the charts, think of the Paul Lynde Halloween Special as the Peter Frampton/Bee Gees Sgt. Pepper movie but with a more charismatic lead. But as James Lileks writes (and definitely click over for the full multimedia autopsy on this craptacular Sid & Marty Krofft-produced train wreck, “everyone thinks they’re living in the WORST cultural period when everything is cheap and false, with the old icons of pop culture chewed up and used just to give a modern moment some gravity it doesn’t deserve. Well, it’s been that way for a while.”

In addition to Paul Lynde and Pinky Tuscadero singing and dancing in front of a pair of Kenworth trucks about the joys of CB radio, imagine the whiplash viewers must have gotten when these musical artists…

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…were followed by this one:

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Or, maybe not. It was the seventies; we were used to such horrors.

Which would only get worse.

* Aerosmith, of course. Did you think I was referring to the Bee Gees?

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And The Most Evil Show on Television Is…

Monday, October 31st, 2011 - by Diane Schrader

Something wicked this way comes… across the pageant stage, wearing a tiny bejeweled $2000 dress, hairspray-lacquered locks, a spray tan and fake teeth (yes, fake teeth).

Okay. In all fairness, what came across the stage isn’t wicked. Her parents, however… another story. A somewhat malevolent story. So what better time than this Halloween season to turn our minds to the dark… the hellish… the evil. Yes, I’m talking about Toddlers & Tiaras, that reality show ode to child beauty pageants from the folks at cable channel TLC. TLC, by the way, stands for The Learning Channel. But with programming like Sister Wives (reality show about polygamy), LA Ink and NY Ink (reality shows about people who tattoo pretty much every square inch of skin), and I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant (reality show about morons), they really ought to change the name to TFC – The Freak Channel.

Amidst this video onslaught against all that is right and good, Toddlers & Tiaras should seem relatively innocent. After all, you may well ask, what could be so wrong about a bunch of little girls playing at Miss America?

Oh, dear reader. There are so many ways it is wrong – dreadfully, revoltingly wrong. Allow me to enumerate. But I caution you – this journey is not for the faint of heart, nor weak of stomach. And if you make it through this, an even more chilling fate is in store at the end, where a commercial-free 45 minutes of Toddlers & Tiaras – the Halloween Bash pageant edition, awaits you. Menacingly.

You have been warned. Here then, ten reasons why Toddlers & Tiaras is yet another ominous omen of the end of civilization as we know it. Let the horror be unleashed:

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Golly, can this girl write a song!

Sunday, October 30th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin
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Three Spine-Tingling Reads… For Adults Only

Sunday, October 30th, 2011 - by Hannah Sternberg

I asked my Twitter followers for their favorite childhood Halloween memories and all of them were the essence of innocent pleasure: mushing pumpkin pulp between their fingers, swapping candy with siblings, and my favorite contribution: “My dad came home with the original light sabers the first year they were out as a surprise.”

Tim Burton understands the childhood attraction to the macabre. He made a kid's musical about a corpse.

As little children, we believed in vampires, werewolves and ghosts. As adolescents, we pretended to believe. As adults, we grasp at the memories of how it felt to believe. And one of the most characteristic delights of childhood Halloween is the glee at being terrified by the unreal, and believing in ghosts.

I remember the years when I slept every night with the sheets pulled tight around my neck because of a Goosebumps book I’d read about vampires; but now the nighttime fear that haunts me most is of leaving the front door unlocked. These days I’m a sad Sherlock Holmes, discovering that behind every mystery are the same old human vices.

Maybe that’s why, as an adult, I reach for bone-chilling literature when I want to recapture that childhood feeling. In a uniquely adult way, the best horror writers pry open the neat machinery of the grown-up brain and activate the squirming illogical fears inside. We might not be able to believe in ghosts anymore, but we can believe in fiction. Dracula, Frankenstein, and the works of Edgar Allan Poe are old friends in this season, but below are a few fine works of horror that are less well-known. Each inspires a thrill of terror that opens like a chasm to the bottom of our most universal and mysterious fears.

Next: A Bone-Chilling Tale from an Unlikely Spookster…

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Halloween of the Future Already Here

Sunday, October 30th, 2011 - by Roger L Simon

All you need is two iPads and you are the Ghoul-of-the-Month:

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The Ten Things You Must Do at Disney World

Sunday, October 30th, 2011 - by Chris Queen

I’m a major Disney fan — I grew up on Disney, and it has been a key influence throughout my life. From films to music to television series there’s always been some type of Disney entertainment playing in the background. I can’t think of a period in my life without Disney.

Growing up in a family that’s nutty for Disney, Walt Disney World has always been our favorite vacation destination. My parents honeymooned there and they first took me as an infant. By my count, I’ve been to Walt Disney World 25 times, though others in my family think I may have been more times. Since my nieces were born, we’ve tried to make our pilgrimages at least once a year.

I love planning our trips to Walt Disney World almost as much as I love going there. Planning helps us build anticipation and makes our trips that much sweeter. There’s no greater excitement than the expectancy that comes with a Walt Disney World trip.

My whole family have become experts for our friends and acquaintances when it comes to Walt Disney World. People constantly ask us for tips and trip-planning advice. In fact, my sister and I have talked about opening a travel agency specializing in Disney trips.

So without further ado, here’s a list of ten essential Walt Disney World experiences. If you’ve never been or if you haven’t been in a long time, hopefully these tips will help you plan and know what to expect. If you’ve been many times like me, maybe this list can inspire some good-natured debate about what’s best at Walt Disney World.

Next: Heaven for the Disney collector…

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Fire Engines, Fighter Jets and Nannies

Saturday, October 29th, 2011 - by Ronnie Schreiber

How's that for a playscape?

Today, municipalities and families buy elaborate jungle gyms and playscapes with professed standards of safety. When I was a child, people had a slightly broader notion of appropriate playground equipment. Something I recently saw at a car show drove that point home.

Today she'd be warning those boys to stay off the dangerous truck.

Times have indeed changed. To protect the children of my city from the dangers lurking in our public parks, city officials tore down playscapes that had been in use for two decades with nary a problem. I guess that their theory was that no playscapes were better than theoretically dangerous ones. It took almost two years for the city to replace them. For all that time children were deprived of a place to play in the only public parks in that part of the city. Two years is a long time in the life of a child. The only problem is that nothing had changed with the playscapes. They hadn’t become unsafe because something had broken or changed. What changed was that ASTM, a non-profit organization that sets standards for all sorts of things (they were originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials), issued a new standard for playground safety and the old playscapes did not meet the new standard. Not surprisingly, the company that made the original playscapes said that they could not be retrofitted to meet the new guidelines but they did offer to show the city officials their new line of ASTM compliant playscapes.

Apparently, the situation was so urgent that the city decided to tear down the “unsafe” structures before it had funds to replace them.

Continue reading the complete post here.

When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News

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Cat’s Paw, Like Watership Down Meets the Terminator

Saturday, October 29th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

So I edited this new book for our own Sarah A. Hoyt’s son Robert, It’s called Cat’s Paw and it will soon be released by Naked Reader Press. It was good enough I decided to review it over at Otherwhere Gazette, here’s an excerpt from the review. Sarah, I blame you for the insanity you have unleashed on the world.

I recently had the privilege of editing a young man’s first book. That book was Cat’s Paw, by Robert Anson Hoyt. Yes, that Hoyt, the son of the redoubtable Sarah A. Hoyt whose work I’ve reviewed here in the past.

It was an … interesting … book.

It’s about a group of cats and this bird.

You see, there’s this giant bird, and it rubs it’s beak on this mountain, and when it wears away the entire mountain the universe comes to an end. There’s exactly one rub left.

Then there’s these cats.

Two sets of them.

One set, the Cat Royal Family, who are the ones who actually rule the world, (this is true actually, ask any cat) and whose job it is to stop Happy (the bird) from rubbing it’s beak and then this cult of ninja cats who are trying to see to it the universe ends.

To this end they’ve managed to kill the entire cat royal family, or maybe not.

Regardless, if you add in plenty of dry British humor — from an author from Colorado and a horde of truly pissed-off killer squirrels (they’re just not fond of cats) a drunken junk-yard cat named Tom (our hero) a pregnant Persian by the name of Fluffy, a male cat who grew up in a library and is named Guinevere and you begin to get an idea of the sort of mad-cap ride you’re in for.

~snip~

Read the rest over at the Otherwhere Gazette.

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Wrong Turn on the Way to Circus Spawned Wall Street Occupation

Saturday, October 29th, 2011 - by Sunny

Editor’s Note: PJLifestyle has recently agreed to a content sharing agreement with the blog Sunny Points Memo, the journalism wing of Sunny TV. Each week we will be featuring various hard-hitting journalistic reports from Sunny’s team of 21st century Woodward and Bernsteins.

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For a few weeks now, droves of people have camped out on Wall Street protesting, er, well, lots of stuff — some of it contradictory. Even though they have no clear message, the enigmatic Occupy Wall Street protest has from the beginning appeared like a well-orchestrated, well-funded endeavor, complete with paid organizers, lawyers, equipment and supplies, medical station, pretty maps, website, Twitter, lots of cardboard and Sharpie pens on hand, and a toll free information number.

But looks can be deceiving. In an effort to establish just who is behind the movement, how it began, and its actual goals, we caught up with one of the first on the scene and it turns out the protest was not planned. A group of young, unemployed college graduates were heading to the circus to look for work. They took a wrong turn, and ended up on Wall Street. Things have merely snowballed since then.

The circus takes all kinds.

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Halloween and its Discontents

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

What caused Halloween to become a fall holiday on par with Thanksgiving and Christmas? When did the memo go out? A hundred years ago, when I was a young tike growing up in South Jersey, you wore a thin vacuformed polystyrene spaceman mask that attached to your head with an elastic band, and wore your regular clothes under what seemed like a gray Hefty bag with a NASA logo that tied in the back like a hospital gown, which your parents bought for you at the local Woolworth’s for $4.99 or so. You scored a few tiny Hershey or Three Musketeers bars, and your parents worried about you getting an apple with a razor blade or a shot of LSD inside. You watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown every year on Channel 10, along with John Facenda’s TV reports about Camden going up in flames annually during the previous night, and worried that the mayhem wasn’t going to spread to your neighborhood. (This New York Times article on Camden and Mischief Night found at the top of a Google search on the topic was published in 1992, but could have ran verbatim for every year prior for a quarter of a century or so.)

And once the candy was gone later that night or the next day, that was about it. Today though, Halloween is a major industry, and plenty of families put as much work into decorating the house for Halloween as they do for Christmas. One of my neighbors has a giant pirate ship in their front lawn for Halloween; others have turned their front lawns into haunted houses and grave yards, with plenty of cobwebs, skeletons, and come the witching hour, lots of smokey dry ice. But not everybody is happy with the rapid growth of the holiday. Or as Mollie Hemingway writes at Ricochet, “Could We Tone Down the Halloween Mania a Smidge?”

My last neighborhood (Capitol Hill, DC) had such dramatic Halloween celebrations that people came in from miles around. One neighbor used to recreate scary movies or videos (e.g. Friday the 13th, Michael Jackson’s Thriller) with actual actors and dancers.

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. But neither do I  forbid my children from taking part. The older one will be a cheeseburger this year, the younger an Octopus. I do forbid any dressing up as anything scary or demonic, but just can’t bring myself to ban a holiday where people give my kids candy and tell them how cute they are.

But I did pause after reading this column from Amity Shlaes, headlined “Halloween’s Pagan Themes Fill West’s Faith Vacuum.” She notes that consumers are expected to spend $6.86 billion on Halloween this fall. Here’s how her piece concludes:

There’s a reason for the pull of the pagan. In the U.S., we’ve been vigorously scrubbing our schools and other public spaces of traces of monotheistic religion for many decades now. Such scrubbing leaves a vacuum. The great self-deception of modern life is that nothing will be pulled into that vacuum. Half a century ago, the psychologist Carl Jung noted the heightened interest in UFOs, and concluded that the paranormal was “modern myth,” a replacement for religion.

Children or adults who today relish every detail of zombie culture or know every bit of wizarding minutiae are seeking something to believe in. That church, mosque and synagogue are so controversial that everyone prefers the paranormal as neutral ground is disconcerting. There’s something unsettling about the education of a child who comfortably enumerates the rules for surviving zombie apocalypse but finds it uncomfortable to enumerate the rules of his grandparents’ faith, if he knows them.

Perhaps when walking down your street this Oct. 31, you’ll see a child in an Aslan costume, or one dressed as Caspian, C.S. Lewis’s prince. The “Narnia” series was Lewis’s premeditated effort to lure kids to Jesus Christ through myth. The manipulative Lewis was on to something: Parents can keep children away from religion, but they can’t stop children from believing in something.

Fans of the orange holiday may want to pause for a moment to look at the empty spaces between its rituals, as with the pumpkin’s smile. Some of us forgo it to dedicate ourselves to one faith or another. But you don’t have to reject Halloween to ask what it may be replacing.

Exactly. It’s worth at least being intentional in how we celebrate this holiday and it’s worth thinking about what we say by how we celebrate it.

So what are your thoughts on Halloween? Do you make a big deal about it? If so, why? What will you — and/or your kids — be trick or treating as?

Me? I’ll probably go out as Mick Jagger. Or at least his CPA.

(Thumbnail on homepage by Shutterstock.com)

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Make Way for Movies for Grown-Ups

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 - by Kathy Shaidle

My friends are gone and my hair is grey.
I ache in the places where I used to play.

– Leonard Cohen, “Tower of Song” (1988)

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I started to notice it right after I turned 30. (I don’t mean the stray grey hair or widening waist, although they too made their appearance.)

Channel surfing one weekend afternoon, I stumbled on The Breakfast Club (1985), and stayed there, as usual.

As a teenager, I saw that movie in its original theatrical run and sat through the closing credits in stunned silence, simultaneous feeling reassuringly understood and (therefore) eerily exposed and vulnerable.

That (almost) middle aged afternoon years later, though, unfamiliar thoughts started buzzing around my brain like hornets:

“’A thousand words’ is only about four pages, guys.”

“Hey, that statue cost money!”

And worst of all:

“This Mr. Vernon guy is making sense.”

It had never occurred to me that one day I’d stop automatically identifying with movie teenagers, and sympathize more with the exasperated adults in their orbit.

I felt sadder than any sane person should about something so trivial, but that epochal shift did come with one compensation:

I came to discover and appreciate new-to-me films I never, ever could have sat through, let alone appreciated, in my twenties or even thirties.

Are the Three Stooges your only foray into black & white?

Is Star Wars the oldest movie you’ve ever seen? I promise: it’s taught you all it’s ever will.

Put aside the pizza pockets for once, and try the escargot. It’s time to acquire more sophisticated cinematic tastes.

Presenting the first in a series of “movies for grown-ups”…

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Bomb, James Bomb

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 - by Mark Tapson

This could be very bad news for Bond fans. Word is that the tentatively titled Skyfall, the latest James Bond film, will be taking a disappointing direction with auteur director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) at the helm.

Fans like myself have already endured a serious delay of the film’s release due to MGM’s precarious financial position. Then news of the ingenious casting of Bond antagonists Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem, who have played two of the most chilling villains in recent years (in Red Dragon and No Country for Old Men, respectively), whetted our appetites even further.

But now rumors are that Mendes is axing most of the grand action sequences which are of course a staple of the long-lived movie franchise, and instead is aiming for Oscar-worthy, “characterful performances” and the kind of “emotional depth” which star Daniel Craig has longed to bring to the iconic role.

Have audiences worldwide been clamoring for this? For “characterful,” “emotional depth”? Except for the Roger Moore films, which I boycotted while mourning Sean Connery’s Bond retirement, I’ve been a rabid fan since Dr. No, and I think I speak for the others when I say we don’t care a whit for Oscar legitimacy. What Bond fans want, and what separates the franchise from the moodier Bourne competition snapping at its heels, is breathtaking, cartoonish fun. If Mendes et al don’t grasp this, or don’t care, then I predict that not only will this be a box office bomb (by Bond standards), but Oscar gold will elude it as well.

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Moneyball and the Four Biggest Myths of a ‘Dying’ Music Industry

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 - by Jonathan Sanders
Record Player

If the industry execs had it their way, we'd be still be buying albums on vinyl.

Late in the film Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane sits for an interview with the owner of the Boston Red Sox, and he’s told that it’s always the first through the wall who suffers the bloody defeat. Baseball’s elite weren’t angry with him over fear he’d destroy the game, a laughably impossible thought. They were afraid that he was going to eliminate their livelihood, as they’d put decades into winning the game a certain way. Get in the way of that set-in-stone attitude, as Beane had done with the Oakland A’s in 2002, and you were asking for trouble.

As I watched that scene unfold, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the way the music industry has treated nearly every technological evolution in the last forty years. Any change in the way people chose to partake in music affected the way the industry executives who sat atop the mountain were able to secure their paychecks. Whether it was the advent of cassette recordings — which many feared would destroy the vinyl record once fans realized they could tape albums and share them with their friends — to the creation of mp3 recordings and the genie-less bottle which is the Internet, the industry has forever been behind the curve, fighting to sustain soon-to-be-dead sales models.

It’s a process as old as time: new products come along which challenge profitable products which have provided job security across the spectrum of an industry. Those who already have achieved success don’t want change; they want profits to continue to pour in with as little outside interference as possible. New ideas involve risk, risk involves potential loss, and potential loss means failure. And few industries are as risk-failure averse as the world of music executives.

Myth #1: “Thanks to iTunes, we’ll never have another “Dark Side of the Moon”!”

I hear it every day that the mp3 player and eventually the advent of the iTunes Store are responsible for killing off the album as an art form. Supposedly, thanks to the inventors of the mp3 codec back in the late ’80s, illegal downloaders in the ’90s and ’00s, and Steve Jobs in 2004, we’re now back to 1964 and the era of early Beatlemania, when singles ruled the roost and albums were an afterthought.

The problem with this false reasoning is that though singles are certainly alive and well, so are albums. We’re just not purchasing them on CDs. Just because casual listeners can go and buy random tracks off the latest Arcade Fire album doesn’t mean that anyone at iTunes is telling such bands not to record full-length albums. Rather, fans simply are being given a choice. Rather than having to shell out for a full album prior to hearing any of the music, we now have the opportunity to graze first, discover if an artist is producing music in which we’d like to further invest. If we like what we hear, we can buy the full album — and many do.

Furthermore, bands on the cutting edge are able to use campaigns through sites like Kickstarter, which go directly to fans to help fund the production of albums in a setting akin to the idea of commissioning a work as a patron of the arts. If a band wants to work on a concept album akin to “Dark Side of the Moon” and they fear there’s perhaps not as wide an audience for it as there could have been in the past, the band can recruit like-minded listeners to help fund the release. If successful, the album can then go on to the wider audience as a whole, allowing such a concept album to flourish.

In other words, comparing CD sales to full-album sales on iTunes and then saying that the sales of singles are cannibalizing the album as an art form is delusional. You’re comparing apples to oranges and perpetuating the idea that the only way an album can be an album is if it’s produced in hard-copy and sold for $18.95 MSRP.

Next: Captain Jack Sparrow Vs. Record Industry Executives’ Paychecks.

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Weather Report: Snow

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

 

Erie, CO:

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Are Men Lonely at the Top?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 - by Helen Smith

I am reading a new book called Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men’s Success written by psychologist Thomas Joiner. Initially I thought that this was just another book undermining men’s success by proclaiming that if men are successful at work, they can be setting themselves up for loneliness and suicide by middle-age or beyond. This negative interpretation of men’s success seems to pop up in the media and culture from time to time to punish men for not being “more like women.”

That said, while I felt that Joiner’s book subtlety promoted the message that if you are male and “on top,” you would suffer for it, he also had some good ideas about how men could improve their mental health and did seem to have some empathy for his fellow man. He gives an example of his clinical treatment with a man who was depressed every November and couldn’t figure out why. It turns out that 14 years ago, in November, his wife had left him after giving birth to their son. The man had been confused, never grieved her loss and instead, sunk into a depression. Once he understood what had happened and worked through the loss, the depression lifted.

Joiner makes a good point about men not seeking treatment often enough, though given the anti-male climate of the mental health crowd, who can blame them? However, instead of saying “get to a therapist if male and depressed,” he gives simple and effective solutions that can lessen depression in men. These include phoning someone everyday or having even a short polite conversation, getting back to nature and getting good quality sleep which he says, is often difficult for men.

The book has some decent advice for men or their loved ones who want to decrease the depression in their lives. Just watch out for the PC chapters by the author such as the one entitled, “Causes, Don’t Tread on Me–the Perils of Independence.”

Good grief, without this independence, nothing would get done. The author does acknowledge that independence is important, along with connection, but sometimes connection is another word for submission. I get the feeling that this author is not keen on political autonomy if the reader is male and right-leaning.

Anyway, any thoughts from readers out there on loneliness and success for men? Do you think it is lonely at the top or is it just a buzzword for men acting more like women in our society?

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Air Travel Quote of the Day, Part Deux

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

“Get your freak on, girl,” courtesy of a TSA agent, according to Fox News and Jill Filipovic, a passenger flying out of New Jersey’s Newark airport, who posted the above image on Twitter:

“It was a $15 bullet vibe from Babeland, about the most basic sex toy you can imagine. It has now been officially retired, since I have no idea if the TSA agents manhandled it.”

She discovered the note on Sunday after she landed in Dublin, she said. She wrote on her blog, Feministe, that the message was “wildly inappropriate” but she “died laughing” about it in her hotel room.

But she told FoxNews.com in an email Monday evening that she’s transitioning to being “pretty disturbed” by the note. She said these agents are given a lot of authority with little oversight.

She wrote that she suspects “whoever left the note felt comfortable doing so (I also suspect that they believed most women would be embarrassed to be “caught” with personal items and wouldn’t file a complaint),” she wrote in the email. “That is certainly cause for concern.”

TSA said in a statement to FoxNews.com that there is no evidence to suggest one of its agents was behind the note.

Greg Soule, a TSA spokesman, said Filipovic has not filed a complaint about the incident, but the TSA “takes all allegations of inappropriate conduct seriously and is investigating this claim.”

Filipovic said she is not looking to get anyone fired over the incident, but she received a lot of feedback from others with other stories of public humiliation at the hands of TSA. She said she hopes the TSA addresses the larger issue, not just this one case.

Why not? The person who did that should be fired, which would be an excellent first step in addressing the larger issue. (How hard can it be to track down the TSA staffers who would have been on duty at Newark when her bags were inspected and require a handwriting sample?) A rather large lawsuit against the TSA would be a logical second step.

Air Travel Quote of the Day

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Air Travel Quote of the Day

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

“We don’t anticipate a water landing. If we had, we all would have called in sick today.”

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Hey OWS, How About Occupying the Dean’s Office… or SallieMae?

Monday, October 24th, 2011 - by Ronnie Schreiber

Radical students occupy Columbia University, 1968

The Occupy Wall Street kids complaining about large student loans think they’re emulating 1960s era protests but one thing that students did in the 1960s, occupy the dean’s office or the school president’s office or the administration building, the OWS kids won’t do. Much of that money has gone into the pockets of a bloated college bureaucracy, filled with Assistant Deans of this and Associate Provosts of that. University administrative employment as grown at twice the rate of faculty. Of course one of the effects of those 1960s era protests was that the radicals literally ended up taking over the campuses. The OWS protesters and university faculty and administrators see each other as kindred political spirits, so we’re not likely to see student protests move to the campuses, though we have seen some professors show up to express their support for OWS and similar “occupations” around the country. All of those administrators and faculty members who have been riding the student loan gravy train have a good reason to point the protesters at Wall Street and away from their own selves. As for the financial side of the loans, the OWS crowd should be protesting in Washington, because student loans are a racket that benefit mostly the government and SallieMae, not Wall Street. SallieMae issues most student loans, with the Federal Government guaranteeing them. When a borrower defaults on the student loan, the Feds pay SallieMae the loan amount plus interest to make SallieMae whole. The gov’t then turns over the debt to a collection agency, General Revenue Corp., which is, in fact, owned by SallieMae. GRC tacks on a 25% collection fee, which the Feds pay, and a 28% commission, which the borrower pays. Those fees have meant $400 million in revenue for SallieMae. GRC has the power to garnishee paychecks, tax refunds and Social Security checks so the Feds eventually get their money back plus interest. Since the Feds and Fannie Mae profit from it, there is no incentive to keep tuition costs down. Actually, because the Feds and Fannie Mae both profit from the 8.8%/yr interest and all those fees and commissions, it’s in their interest for the student to default. Just like your bank doesn’t want you to pay off your credit card, when a government agency is a creditor, it’s in their interest to have you in arrears. Banks don’t have nearly the garnishee and seizure powers that the government does.

Berkeley 1964

When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News

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Joss Whedon does Much Ado About Nothing (!!?)

Monday, October 24th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

Would I make up something like that?

Bellwether Pictures proudly announces the completion of principal photography on MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, a modern version of Shakespeare’s classic comedy adapted and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel’s upcoming THE AVENGERS, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”). Filmed in just 12 days entirely on location in exotic Santa Monica, the film features a stellar cast of beloved (or soon to be beloved) actors – some of them veterans of Shakespearean theater, some completely new to the form. But all dedicated to the idea that this story bears retelling, that this dialogue is as fresh and intoxicating as any being written, and that the joy of working on a passion project surrounded by dear friends, admired colleagues and an atmosphere of unabashed rapture far outweighs their hilariously miniature paychecks.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is the first feature from Bellwether, a micro-studio created by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole for the production of small, independent narratives for all media, embracing a DIY ethos and newer technologies for, in this particular case, a somewhat older story.

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The History of Green and Blue Screen in the Movies

Monday, October 24th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

While green screen has become ubiquitous for small (I have one in my garage for my videos), medium (PJTV has one in their L.A. studio) and gigantic productions (films like Sin City and 300), the basic effect that drives the concept dates back almost 80 years, to the early days of the talkies. A couple of years ago, the folks at Videomaker magazine produced a nice clip on the surprisingly long history of blue and green screen effects, going back to special effects wizard Linwood Dunn’s pioneering efforts in the 1930s, all the way to the Matrix and other gigantic green and blue screen spectaculars.

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John McCarthy, inventor of LISP and father of AI, dead at 84.

Monday, October 24th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

More here.

Steve Jobs, Dennis M Ritchie, and John McCarthy — it’s been a rough month for computer people.

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Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity by Working Less

Monday, October 24th, 2011 - by John Hawkins

I own or co-own five websites: Right Wing News, Linkiest, Viral Footage, Trending Right, and The Looking Spoon. I write weekly columns for Townhall and PJ Media along with a weekly post for the Huffington Post. I’m also on Twitter here and here, G+, and Facebook. I do 1-3 hours of radio appearances and get 1000 emails in an average week and I also have a hand in a GOP fundraising project that I co-founded called Raising Red. That’s in addition to socializing, dating, working out, consulting, reading, watching TV, writing a book, eating, sleeping, relaxing, and everything else I do in a week.

How do I do all of that? It’s not easy. But here are a few hints that you can hopefully adapt and apply in your own life.

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Our Deceitful Marxist President’s Cruel War on Sick Medicinal Marijuana Patients

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 - by Dave Swindle

Traditionalist conservatives who feared the Drug War would take a lax, hopey change turn under Obama have instead found a tougher clone of the previous administrations. In an aeon in which their president mostly fills them with dread, they should celebrate the day’s Boardwalk Empire-style prohibitionist surge.

LA Weekly:

This morning’s announcement by four California officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that hundreds of pot shops have been ordered to close down marks the most serious attempt, to date, to eradicate the state’s medical-marijuana industry.

They told press and angry advocates that the new crackdown will initially go after ”pot shops located close to schools, parks, sports fields and other places where there are a lot of children and … ‘significant commercial operations’ … [including] includes farmland where marijuana is being grown.” But from there on out, it’s free game.

The Drug Policy Alliance is furious: They just blasted a press release titled “Obama Administration’s Medical Marijuana Policies Now Worse Than Bush and Clinton Policies” — and they’re pretty spot on.

*****

Dear Professor Mary Grabar,

I hope you’re doing well and I do ever so look forward to collaborating with you in the future here at PJM.

I would like to revisit an old debate that you and I had back in December of 2009 regarding marijuana legalization and the difference between the political Left and the Counterculture.

Almost two years after our first discussion on the subject I believe the evidence is more abundant than ever that I am correct in my revised theses that:

A) Tea Party conservatives should not support the federal government spending billions of taxpayer dollars to try and prevent people from becoming drug addicts.

B) Barack Obama and the movement he represents are most accurately understood as Marxist, not Countercultural.

Let’s work our way backwards on these two points — from the nature of our enemies on to the values that you and I share in spite of our very different cultural backgrounds. On the next pages I’m going to state my case on these matters and welcome your rebuttal to help refine the bold propositions. I’m also certain that PJM’s commenting community will no doubt have some perceptive analyses of these issues.

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Video of the Day

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Long before it became the theme song of the Blues Brothers, Booker T and the MGs remind us (and I think Creedence Clearwater Revival, who look to be in the audience) that “Time is Tight” — and with a rhythm section like that, what else could it be?

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